Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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We ate snails from their shells, dipped bread in the sauce.
The man we were visiting poured more wine,
said he hoped we’d stay a long time. Early summer —
all the farmhouse windows wide open.
Dusk seemed to be holding its breath. Then, the first crickets.
He was a friend of a friend. Had been through a bad patch —
wanted company. We’d come to Paris on impulse: Two women
in our mid-twenties. Still young, but not completely.
Walking down the platform to board the train to his village, we laughed.
And laughed all the way to the tiny station, where we met our host,
who drove along roads winding by lush meadows and buttercups.
He showed us the garden, the chickens, the soft snails
alive in a wire cage. The day became night.
Over pasta, he ladled a thick liquid made of just-picked tomatoes,
grated the cheese, opened another bottle of wine.
We felt we belonged here. As if the crickets were chirping for us.
And what about this man now slicing strawberries,
who said he could imagine falling in love
with her or me? He put down the knife, looked up —
Your smile. Then turned his gaze — Your eyes.
She and I stared at each other. Were we thinking,
Flip a coin? Or, Why not share him?
But, on another continent, my husband waited.
We’d just gotten back together, though in the end
the marriage didn’t work out. And I wish I’d stayed —
just to smell the snails baking in their dimpled pan,
pick them from their shells while the crickets sang.