The Ripening by Cara Hancox

 Hannah bumped into the vendor’s cart and sent the box of pomegranates tumbling onto the street. Her cheeks burned as pink as the split fruit that cascaded into a stranger’s path in front of her.  The man bent down picked up a pomegranate, and placed it into her empty basket.

Grazie” Hannah said looking down into the basket.  She looked up. Her eyes locked with his, neither of them wanting to look away. An extended moment later, both of them oblivious to the vendor still waving his arms and yelling from behind, a broad smile began to spread from the young Italian to Hannah’s face.

“I’ve not seen you here before. I am Antonio Vitale… and you are?” He wondered what this lovely young woman was doing in Capolana.  Hannah outlined her story to Antonio, as if she’d told it countless times. She sensed preliminaries needed to be succinct and to the point to make up for lost time they hadn’t yet shared. Together they laughed and picked up the fruit she’d scattered around the square.

It seemed unreal, almost too good to be true: what were the chances two people from such different perspectives would be able to sustain a burgeoning love?  The story might read something like, “Canadian Professor on sabbatical in Italy meets talented young musician, falls madly in love, moves in with him in historic town in Tuscany, and produces Giller prize-winning novel. 

Some time later, while having breakfast, Antonio looked up at Hannah. He took her hand into his own. “Hannah, you cannot know how much I wanted this time between us to last. I have kept the news to spare you – but can no longer.  Tomorrow, I leave for my tour.  The engagement was arranged long before we met.”

It all made sense now: the phone calls, the long rehearsals, the way he fidgeted with his fork when she spoke at dinner, and the more frequent looks away from her. Hannah realized the growing silence between them during the past week had been leading to this announcement.

I love your caress

The touch of your hand

as it moves

down my back.

You are the reason

I remain

In this state of grace.

Antonio kissed Hannah goodbye. He pulled her towards him, his hand gently cupping the back of her head. Her soft brown hair slid easily between his fingers. She felt a lump in her throat and did not try to explain it to him as he picked up his bags and moved to the door.

Hannah remained at Antonio’s apartment after he left for Milan early the next day. She spent much of her time on the balcony where she had a clear view of the market square and surrounding countryside. Leaving Italy was not an option. She would remain in Capolana.  Hannah had news for Antonio when he returned.

 

 

I wait.

Each day

I watch

the sun paint

Capolana

gold and bright.

 

While summer hastens

the fig leaves’ perfume –

sweet and fragrant

I touch

 the ficus carica

where it swells

upon the tree.

 

 

I wait

Expectant.

While days

escape me

 nights

torment me.

 

I wait

for your return,

when we will walk

in the orchard

and pluck

the ripened fruit

before it falls

to the ground.

 

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