when I began my Italian lessons…

A friend of a friend, I stayed in his home in Tuscany. That fourth day, I began in pencil as he sat smiling. His eyes were where I started. He kept trying to see my work. I smiled without speaking. I was thirty-two and knew so little of his language. I think he became flirtatious then – still in his late twenties, young enough to believe infatuation was love. Across the table, his lips whispered words that hung in the air between us. When I showed him his portrait after forty minutes, he said, “Ahhh!” Then leaning toward me, when his lips touched mine, his mouth opened. But this I had not captured until I had finished drawing the mouth, until the eyes where I started – closed with his embrace, until we were in his bed where I learned afternoon meant love when I began my Italian lessons.

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