I will always remember her,
Annalisa, standing in the street.
I would sit there in the evenings,
imagining the drab North London
suburb as part of Italy,
while smoking, and drinking
a glass of wine. I now enjoy
the company of waiters and
waitresses, but the best chats
were always with Annalisa - her long,
dark hair, the clench above her nose,
as she mustered all her English,
as she tried to make me see.
Once, late at night - when
I saw Ryman's across the road
as part of the Ligurian sea, and the
threatening a Pole not as humdrum
scum but as Cosa Nostra,
and the pock-marked Indian lady in the 7/11
as a Neapolitan vendor in her
Tabacchaio - the talk between me and
Anna, me and Lisa, lulled, and I
just said, unprompted, to fill
the silence, 'Beatrice'. bay-ah-tree-chay
She lowered her gaze and smiled, 'Beatrice
but also Beata - Beatrice is the giver
of blessings, Beata the blessed'.
'And is there a male equivalent?'
I asked. Once more, between her eyebrows,
the little furrow. 'Can Beata
and Beatrice be maschile?' mas-kee-lay
'You can be Beato, but no, there's
no Beatore.' bay-ah-tor-ray
'Pity,' I said, as she walked away,
her hips in sway, carrying her tray
to one side.