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Kristy Bowen

You Talk to Me About Italy

You talk to me about Italy.

It speaks with the sound of lonely
footfalls in piazzas, of words
rolling like honey off the tongues
of women dressed in black.

Even your words ache with the bitter
hint of espresso, the bleached hue
of frescoes, ruins rising,
silent and still in moonlight.

You say everything reminds you --
the clatter of plates in the cafe,
a woman on the train talking
softly in Sicilian to her child.

You once saw a girl, fair-haired,
leading a goat down a narrow
country road, once bit into
a tomato so terribly sweet
you could have died.

Now, you kiss me on both cheeks
when you leave, like a father,
bring me loaves of bread,
soft and crusty, that go
bad within the day.

You speak to me low and fondly,
like a cat from the Coliseum
that followed you back
to your hotel in the rain.

You've said nothing of love,
or the woman I imagine
once leaned close to you,
her hand over her wineglass,
laughing behind her dark hair,
her earrings falling against her throat.

If you close your eyes,
you tell me, you can almost
imagine you're still there,
the street becomes a square,
the lake becomes the sea.

If I close my eyes
in the sun, I can almost
believe it, feel the language
build in my throat, this
longing foreign in my bones.

©2003 by Kristy Bowen

Kristy Bowen's work has appeared in a number of journals, including Blue Fifth Review, Verse Libre Quarterly, and Stirring. She lives and writes in Chicago, where she edits the online journal Wicked Alice. Her chapbook, The Archaeologist's Daughter, is forthcoming in spring 2004 from Moon Journal Press. See more of her work at her Web site.

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