Becoming Mastroianni

I was a precocious child.
I declared myself
An existentialist at age 15,
Before I could even spell it,
Convinced that if God wasn’t absent
He was certainly sleeping on the job.
That same year I saw La Dolce Vita
Which changed my life forever
With its bacchanalia on the streets of Rome
And a glimpse, however brief,
Of Ekberg’s monumental breasts.

More than Camus or Sartre,
I aspired to be Mastroianni,
The harried Latin lover
With the languorous bedroom eyes
Arthur no more,
I became the dashing Arturo
In a sharply tilted Panama
And tailored trench,
One trigger finger wound around
A small cup of espresso,
The other tickling a young girl’s knee.

European women bowled me over
With their nonchalance,
The way they glided across the room
With barely a rustle in their clothes.
The way they stepped out of them.
At 18 I swam around a cove in Korcula
And found Ingrid floating topless
Like a mermaid in the sea.
She climbed onto a rock
And changing into panties and a bra,
Asked me to hook the eyes.

At 19 the lovely Lina,
Didn’t wear anything at all
Beneath her peasant dress
As we gathered mushrooms
For the evening’s cutlets
In the Vienna Woods.

At 20, I spent a whole night with Monique
At a pied a terre in St Germain
With its creaky lift for two.
In the morning, the mustached waiter
Posed discretely on our bed
A tray of warm croissants
And marmalade from tiny plums.

At 23 . the night before our wedding
At Jackie’s house in the Lorraine,
Her impish father brought up
Every bottle from his cellar
And got me roaring red-eyed drunk.
I awakened in an ice-cold shower
And never really sobered up,
Attempting unsuccessfully
To slip the ring on her right hand.
I’m told I ranted through the evening
About Deneuve, Loren and Vitti,
Inviting all our guests to climb with me.
Fully clothed.
Into the Trevi Fountain.

(Originally published in Two Words For)



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