Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Summer in Winter, Winter in Summer
From Maria Gillan's newest collection, What Blooms in Winter (NYQ Books) we offer you this poem of Maria with her grandson in an Italian memory that will always be summer and winter at the same time.
This summer in Italy, you helped me up steps,
let me hold your arm as we walked
the cobblestone streets of Italian hill towns.
I wanted to give you a gift of the Italy I love, grandson.
How easy it is to believe what we want to believe
about the way people see us,
what they feel.
For years, I held onto the image of you
at seven years old in your North Carolina house.
You walked past me in your family room,
backed up, looked at me with huge violet eyes.
“I love you, Grandma,” you said.
Or the way you always grabbed your pillow
and overnight bag because you wanted to stay
with me at the hotel when I visited you,
so much sweetness always coming off you,
such an open, loving heart.
Now you’re 19 and we are in Italy together. We have
been here almost three weeks. I am happy
to walk with you, to watch you try new food.
At my favorite restaurant in Rome, we have dinner together
and you drink your glass of champagne and mine.
Suddenly, you turn to me and tell me everything
your mother and father say about me, all the things
that are wrong about me—too busy, too loud,
too enthusiastic—all the things I should have done,
and in the restaurant, where I will never be able to go again,
I start to cry.
We leave the restaurant and you take my arm.
But my throat clamps closed. I can’t speak.
How foolish I feel for believing you loved me
as I have always loved you.
Now, each night, I pray for you to do well
in your classes, to be happy, to make friends.
I love you no less,
though whenever I think of you I am sad
for this loss, a cave that opens inside me
too deep and dark ever to fill.
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.