Back to Italy for inspiration…three for the price of one!
In my head I am you.
Just for a moment.
I see you in the garden under the olive trees
reach your small boned fingers for your coffee, for your book.
I see your fine brown arms that still go in, not out
and your small breasts that need nothing to hold them up.
I see your thin linen nightdress the colour of rain,
your hip bones making its only shape
and your fox-red hair,
Your body is cool.
There is room for air.
Your limbs are not grappled by small hot hands,
child hands sticky with sweat and dirt
but free and slicked with the milk green scent of figs.
I see you look to the window where he is,
standing naked, looking.
I know you’re watching me,
here under the olive trees
next to the poisonous oleander whose glaucous leaves
needle my skin and
I’m watching you back.
And thinking how well your family is,
how I’d like your breadth and ease
and your wide outstretched arms always for those children.
I see their sunbleached heads hot in the crook of your neck
and you smiling sure of how much you’re loved.
He looks at me through the window and
I’m here for now, reflected back.
But his eyes will dull and move inwards and
I won’t come here again.
So, I drink my coffee
here in the garden
in this expensive sheath of barely-there linen,
wrapped like a gift.
And I smile and breathe in the morning’s warmth
and know it will stop.
I sit here in the heat
on the edge of the pool
dipping my feet into the Hockney glint.
I’ve bobbed my hair again,
not a dark Sassoon cap
and my body is a part of the landscape
brown folded, furrowed like the fields behind me.
I like my comfortable middle
the soft-flaked ripples and the ledge where my hands rest.
I’m no longer responsible for it
for I am old and this is what happens.
I see that one,
sun-salted children squeezed into her in the shade
twisting her hair into plaits
dripping pool water onto her hot legs
I see her long for freedom.
I see it in her dive.
That rush of nothing,
that rush of minute suspension
again and again coming back
to stretch her arms and plunge
a perfect taut arc
wanting those moments to join into a whole.
And the other one,
the translucent one sunning her careful pale body
cocooned in anxiousness,
aware of every glance but wanting none but his.
My body is not desirable,
not rounded nor svelte
and all I crave is cool pool water
lapping my legs.