After my parents left Milan for home and I was on my own once again after about two weeks of quality and intensive family time, I took a train to Florence where I would spend my remaining days in Italy. I was in a second class car with two sets of three seats, facing each other. At one point in the middle of the ride, a gorgeous Italian girl sat across from me and one seat to the left. I was compelled to write a poem about her. I don’t know why. Before I share the poem, I will share my written reaction the moment after handing her the poem as she disembarked the train and I, presumably, saw her for the last time.
“I wrote a second copy of this poem and gave it to her. I waited for our packed car to begin disembarking. An old lady stood between us. “Sorry,” I said, loud and abrupt. She didn’t hear. The slicked up, gel-haired guy behind her perked his ears. “Sorry,” I repeated. Louder this time.
She looked at me. Those eyes. “I wrote this for you,” I told her. She was confused for a moment as I extended the folded green paper towards her. “It’s a poem I wrote for you.” She grabbed it, dumbfounded, smiling. “For me?” she asked. “Yea. For you.”
She took it and I returned to my seat by the window to let the many disembarkers waiting behind me get to the door – and to let her go and feel the effect of the gesture, and fire imbedded in this somehow antiquated exchange. I sat and felt the eyes of the other guys in the car searing into my back, likely annoyed by my taking an opportunity that passed through their minds.
I looked into my book (Scott McLellan’s What Happened), then out the window. She was standing there, looking at me. A big smile. I kept my pokerface as our eyes met. Then I returned a softer, subtler, (manlier?) smile. Her’s grew, my heart pounded, but I felt a certain safety caged inside the traincar. The train started, and she walked off.
“Don’t look,” Baron Antoine once said in Tuscany,
“But she’s got a classic beauty.”
I smiled. “Hey,” he warned. “I know what you’re thinking. Stop.”
Her cheeks are feather soft
Under the blanketing fluorescence,
She’s like a mythic statue carved by the alter
Of a grand, 17th century Cathedral.
I want to celebrate her hair,
The way it reveals just enough of her
Incredible features to make my heart flutter;
Like curtains draped half-heartedly
Over a window with the most spectacular landscape you’ve ever seen.
Are the rips in her jeans intentional?
Or just the sign of daily grinds,
Casting a glimpse of her tender skin,
Olive tone streaks too true for the naked eye.
She’s a breathing portrait,
An estuary of life and longevity
Her love is a faint mist
In a scorching inferno.
The waves of the Mediterranean
Streak along her shoulders,
An auburn-chestnut medley
To be her sweatshirt.
A pillow wrapped in her arms.
To be engulfed in her scent.
At the end of the poem, I wrote, “I saw you and had to write this poem.” And left my name and email. I've realized, however, that it's not about the contact. I could care less if she contacted me. It was about reaching out to her in that moment, and experiencing that connection with her. Her smile. It really was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It is imprinted into my memory.