I had seen the village
between the mountains and the sea,
with the flowers that seemed to burst forth
from behind every bendy corner
every broken wooden fence
every ditch beside pot-holed country roads.
It was always sunny there
and the water was always warm
as I floated on my back, looking up at blue skies
collecting salt, on my skin.
We would drive down winding mountain roads,
in a yellow Fiat that was an antique,
seats damp from our bathing suits,
as we drove forty minutes just to get an ice cream
or a granita
in the next town over,
just for something to do
with our sunglasses on.
I learned that what sounded like
was actually fichi d’india,
the cactus that I loved,
that apparently sometimes fell on people.
I thought of it there when I was far from it,
counting money for rent
sleeping on an air mattress
in a dingy one room apartment
that was not mine
on the third floor
above the dumpsters;
or when I wore three pairs of pyjamas,
to stay warm
on a springy mattress
in a place that smelled like water,
where the heat only came on three times a day
for an hour,
always wishing for summer,
wishing we could go back.
There were lemon trees,
in the village.
They were twisty,
with bright yellow fruit hanging
against forever blue skies.
I told myself that one day,
when I had “made it,”
I too would have a lemon tree.
When we were living Rome,
in the winter,
I saw a young man with glasses,
who said he was from Naples,
who had a small three-wheeler truck,
overflowing with flowers and plants,
ones that seemed exotic in the grey city,
which he was selling in the piazza.
He seemed cold,
but he had lemon trees.
I don’t think we had made it,
but we gave him twenty euro,
and put it on our little city-balcony.
It only ever had two lemons,
one fell off.
Maybe it died.