In lieu of a break down, I buy a Tuscan villa
with what’s left of the alimony.
The keys I am given are old and because
I am a novelist, I imagine my past lives
as the generations that once lived in this house
and each one of them is white. Citizenship goes unsaid; the visa process unsexy, the man who will teach me
taxing, and therefore not worthy
of a plot line—unlike
that after a lengthy divorce I can still orgasm.
He takes me to Rome—O Roma! I already miss
the Tuscan fields,
where the olive trees are plucked by Black hands that were plucked from the Mediterranean, row after fragrant row
and from the road, don’t look like hands
at all, but like
of gnarled branches. Love becomes me in this new city.
I am always radiant.
My body, after all, a vessel of history, but I dress it in white, cinched
at the waist,
and no one says a thing.
I antique shop, never suspecting I could find
my skull behind glass, just another artifact, price tagged and measured, among such fine china. He leaves me of course.
After all, we’d never survive it;
not love or the hours
long drive between us,
but the credits rolling.
I don’t shed a single tear
(I’m lying, enough to flood the piazza).
Besides, there are many men to take his place, ballads of them.
Men, who will touch me,
their hands staying hands, and not blossoming into a rifle, or a colony this is the pinnacle of romance
, I’m sure.
Men, who tell me I have eyes they could drown in.
Men, who have never been left to die at sea. I want to
lie naked in their beds
—my desire, simple and ahistoric—and rename each place they kiss me like conquered territory: Giorgio, Marcello,
Pietro, whose oiled lips at dinner
could make a blush cross Mary’s porcelain cheeks.
Copyright © 2021 by Edil Hassan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.