“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.

 

Doug Ramspeck

About Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is published by Southern Indiana Review Press. Individual poems have appeared in journals that include Kenyon Review, Slate, Southern Review, and Georgia Review. Stories have appeared in Iowa Review, Southwest Review, Green Mountains Review, Gargoyle, and others. He is a two-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and he teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.