Italian Princess

She introduced me to her father 
and then she said a prayer… 
She made movements with her hands 
as I stood in silence, 
hovering over him as he lay 
below the Impatiens that stared up at me. 
She was in New York to see her Nanny: 
someone unrelated by blood, 
but linked by affection. 
I was in New York to see how the absence 
of family is crowned by the abundance of friends. 

In the distance, the cemetery foliage is dying… 
I don’t know this man beneath my feet, 
but I’ve seen his pictures, heard his stories. 
I don’t ask questions or force her to remember, 
but I do listen when her memory speaks. 

Forty-eight hours later 
in Connecticut by the ocean, 
we drank Merlot with her mother. 
My senses virgin to the 
maroon flavor of Clos du Bois, 
she had to teach me how to relish. 
The first sip, a raw introduction; 
the second, the aromatic Napa Valley, 
dismissing the sour fermentation; 
the next, a noisy slurp splashing the tongue 
and cleansing the palate; 
finally, the swish of mouthwash-redwine. 
Hard to remember, now, 
the swallow of this drink 
because it so quickly distorted my thoughts. 

As the ruby liquid disappeared from 
my glass, my mind drew crooked pictures 
of family gatherings: 
one-hundred plus people 
imbibing on my new-found plum, 
as they bring to life their past in pasta– 
penne a la vodka and buttery cavatelli in 
Settembre family red sauce– 
each member glistening in yellow gold 
as their voices chime high and their laughter 
resonates in my ears. 

It was then I saw 
the shadow of an Italian Princess 
and there I took a long drink 
from her family tradition. 
But it was in the constancy of shifting seasons 
that death and absence silently drowned 
in the ocean’s distant fury.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 16th, 2005 at 5:00 am and is filed under Poetry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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