by Mary Jo Balistreri

You took my breath away as you leaned
into the blue shade of the open entrance—
tall, willowy presence, whispery softness of silk,
sensuous and lush against that frame
of hand-made Italian tile. You seemed then
a mirage, a slight sway of hues in the hint of a breeze
at once transparent and yet a subtle composite
of the courtyard I was just approaching.

You remained motionless, giving no sign
you’d even seen me. I knew then the memory of you
waiting there was branded on my heart forever.
Coming closer, everything became intensified:
the tread of my footsteps on tile, the pink perfume
of the hydrangeas, full to bursting in the sun,
heavy, pendulous, (The urge to pluck one hard to resist.)
the brilliance bouncing off the geometric design
of the courtyard wall, blues and yellows,
the turquoise window frames.

By the time I reached you, dazed with color,
dizzy with emotion, you steadied me with your hand
and drew me inside …

The resinous air, loud with the sound of cicadas
interrupt the memories scudding through me.
Awake, eyes closed, my body unmoving, unwilling
to surrender you again, I struggle to keep you
warm within me even as I knew … even as I knew.

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