“Italian Alps”

She approached me on the train, slipping beside me, to say in broken English it was okay that I’d been watching her. We had a view of the mountains from the windows, could see what appeared to be snow but was actually white marble. The woman kept touching her chest as she spoke, perhaps to mimic the thump-thump-thump of a heartbeat. There was something she wanted me to know, it seemed, and this time she pointed at herself with both hands, tapping four fingers from each one just beneath her collarbones, and saying something I couldn’t quite decipher about the human body. Later she returned to her seat, and I must have dozed off, for I awoke one stop short of my destination in Florence, and saw at once that she was gone from the train, out on the platform, gazing up at me. And as the train began to pull away, I watched through the dusty window as the woman I’d been sneaking glances toward clutched both hands to her breasts, gripping them while her face contorted or maybe sagged into an expression that seemed both beautiful and sorrowful, and as distant and as dreamlike as the mountains.

 

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Doug Ramspeck

About Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck is the author of six poetry collections and one collection of short stories. His most recent book, Black Flowers (2018), is published by LSU Press. Individual poems and stories have appeared in journals that include The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Slate, and The Georgia Review. His short story collection, The Owl That Carries Us Away (2018), is published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). He teaches at The Ohio State University at Lima.