Lisa Romano Licht

A Villa in Tuscany

Last fall 

it started, sharp

as the weather’s hairpin turn.  

First, a turban, then a wig, auburn.

A stranger’s strands crowned the faceless stand;  

the real hair’s expensive, you said, but worth it.

A season before 

we had read

Under the Tuscan Sun,  

a quartet rubbing shoulders, 

couched in your living room.

Illusions fed by the glint of candles.

Who knew what grew in you;

we thought we knew everything,

dripping our bruschetta

drinking our wine,

dreaming of rented, hilltop villas.

This autumn, we cook

pot roast and soup,

handing your husband the foil-wrapped gifts,

your porch the unspoken, uncrossed line.

She’s asleep, he says, 

saying less each time.

This autumn, we visit

the world reduced to one room, yours.

No candles lit where we drank wine.

Reduction of you all in white–

green eyes still flash, the voice still yours.

I touch your narrow shoulder.

I’ll cook for you on Monday,

it’s my birthday.

You’re only one year older.


He waited once a year 

for the woods.

You’ll get shot like the deer, 

they told him—wife, daughters, 

granddaughters grown.

At ninety,

How would he still hear gunshots,

see enough with cloudy eyes

not to mistake a man

or be mistaken for that deer?

Stubborn, Italian, 

he yelled, rebelled against 

their female worry 

and went.

Walking the woods–

red-and-black checked jacket,

a Lucky Strike 

between his lips, 

the tar that had never claimed his lungs.

Yellow-tipped fingers on the rifle,

calloused, bent from hammers and scissors.

Hard hands. But if he shot a deer 

he’d stroke its coat like the dogs he’d loved.

Stalking the woods 

with equal conviction

he’d known on city streets, 

his breath painted the icy air

same as a younger man’s.

Unafraid to be mistaken for his prey.

Red-and-black jacket,

red-stained deer:

hunt what’s left to love.


Lisa Romano Licht’s work has been published in PRIMO magazine and The Westchester Review, and her poetry has garnered first place in competitionssponsored by Blue Mountain Arts and Greenburgh Arts and Culture. She holds anMA in Writing from Manhattanville College, where she studied with JoannaClapps Herman. A lifelong New Yorker, she is proud of her full Sicilian ancestry from her mother’s and father’s families.