on the train that came in this morning to milan, i sat in 18a. a few stops after i pulled away from that sinking city-in-the-sea, that soon-to-be-atlantis, a tall, beefy man sat down next to me. he was wearing a suit that was tailored to a quarter inch of his life. a summer gray against a summer sky shirt. his thighs were muscular and strong and the fabric was stretched taut over them. i was desperately desperately needing to put my tiny hand on this thigh. he conversed calmly in a very soft, italian into his mobile. his powdery smell was saturating. through slit eyes i noted close cropped salt and pepper hair, ray bans on of a newspaper. bombings. a rolex. i was wearing a cap sans make up. i couldn’t see his face, i didn’t want to see his face.
i closed my eyes, trying to recall d. who has momentarily re-entered my life. i have written about him before, he was squeezed in with all the other lovers between the doctor and the frenchman. maybe he just wants to clear the smoke. we turn thirty and think: have we overlooked something? lets go back to our files, let us go back to that girl who on our first and only date did blow all night long and then asked, deadpan: aren’t you going to kiss me.
we chugged through the green italian countryside. my own marcello mastroianni talking on his mobile. uno quattro nove tre. he put the phone down, i yawned, i tried to sleep but i kept wiggling in my seat. this man was making me wiggle. a thin wedding band. i woke up, i gave up. i leaned back, he leaned back. i leaned forward, he leaned forward, oh, he’d caught my scent. if only i had had the common sense to put on some foundation and eyeliner i would have taken off that cap and said, in my most beguiling americanese… please, tell me what that newspaper says.
but i didn’t. i meditate on d. d. who has wooed me haphazardly, violently, stupidly since i was 18. we fucked once, what a body, what sad eyes. another korean doctor, my mother’s will be done. let me guess, i wanted to say, you don’t like your life? let me guess, the figure of your father looms over you so greatly that it darkens everything in sight? so much so that you can’t tell yourself from that darkness? hmph.
or the doctor who i have faithfully loved. right? but do we forget that he came to me hat in hand and i, without regret, rejected him, turned him away. laughed in his face without mirth. and every day that i live is a continual, repeated, farther away, turn? what does that mean? to love someone and to reject them? what does that mean? it seems mundane.
or that man on the train who waited, waited patiently for me to speak. i could have said: take me some place nice. he scratched his beard and it sounded like crackling. i turned toward the window, i was so tired and the train was still an hour away from milan. i was afraid if i fell asleep that i would lean into him and that my hands would slip into his jacket, rest on his rib cage. that i’d press my lips against his neck. and that he wouldn’t stop to show me his face.