Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Poem: "In Sicily"

Maria Mazziotti Gillan contributed two poems to the inaugural issue of Ovunque Siamo, a new online journal of Italian-American writing.  The journal's goal is "to include a mix of Italian- American voices writing their preoccupations in poetry, essay, short fiction and creative non-fiction pieces. Some are focused on particular aspects of Italian-American life, troubling the relationship with our heritage, a particularly strong one that unites us in many ways, the thread of which runs through our psyches and our daily lives’ in ways that even we, ourselves, find difficult to understand, and yet, there it is."

One of the poems is "In Sicily," from Maria's book What Blooms in Winter.

My 19-year-old grandson gives me his arm, lugs me up
the steps of the bus, helps me up hills and mountains,
his eyes drinking in the beauty of Sicily, its exquisite
flowers, its elaborate churches, its ancient temples
that stand stark against the bright sky.

We sit in cafes together and order
an enormous lemon ice that is served
to us in one of those Sicilian lemons
three times the size of lemons we have at home.
Time slows in the hot afternoon
while we sit shaded by patio umbrellas
and almost purr like cats snoozing
through long afternoons.

When we get to Mt. Etna, my grandson climbs
to the top of the volcano, or as far up
as they’ll allow people to go.
He loves the challenge of the climb,
carries a volcanic rock back to the café
where I wait for him. The guide tells us these rocks
are what make the Sicilian roses
so perfect and perfumed.

When we get home, I push some of these rocks
into the soil around my rose bushes
and watch them bloom,
as though I’d carried Sicily home with me,
the huge Sicilian sky, the mountains,
the people with their tables laden with food
and smiles of welcome,
this place so ancient and unchanging,
so alive with color and light,
whose music calls me back to it again and again,
as though it, and not New Jersey,
were home.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent book is the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and ShadowHer collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is MariaGillan.com.

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