Seven Italian Postcards
Card 7: Besame Mucho
tram twenty-seven en route to the train station at Piazza
Cadorna we held hands and watched a sleeping city ignore
my early exit. Trains are fun when you're in love and going
places together, but when they become the emblem of separation
and loneliness I'd readily spurn them. What is sadder than
a one-way trip with lovers parting at the end?
Romani accordion player, a boy with big black eyes, climbed
onto our car at one stop and coaxed his instrument through
a wheezy rendition of "Besame Mucho" as he walked
down the aisle, hoping for coins. I put a nice one in his
cup and he planted himself in front of us, playing a second
chorus. Who had taught him this sad lament, whose meaning
he was too young to catch?
minutes I'd be alone, and for many months after, and on
this morning in Milan the poignancy of schmaltz deepened
the autumn of departure, leaving this woman behind in the
Old World even as I returned to the New. Hasn't it too often
on the platform ready to board an express to Malpensa, I
realized there is no escaping this city of circles and I
should stay forever, like people captured in postcards.
Don't we wish the wheels would stop? That we could never
age? No chance of that, cara mia - nor is there time for
enough kisses. Doors close between us and the train leaves
on schedule, as already blue miles start to lengthen and
accrue. Italy lives without me.
MB, 2004, USA -
infos about the trip and the author
can be found here