Love Letter to Italy
we traversed my mother’s land,
surely I would love her.
graveyard of ancestors, whisperings
trapped underneath emerald valleys,
crushed by thickly spread guilt,
seashells bright blue on ashen shore.
heard the calling –
to be at peace in exodus, caked
in Kelly green famine. “Do not forget
your roots.” I felt it,
in my heart, but more so
in my bones. It was cold. I remember that.
She was frozen,
paralyzed by haunted faces
of freckled men cheering in Renvyle Pub
who could not forget their war
and my mother
curling my hair for feiseanna I never won,
hips purple from plexi-glass shattering
and barren lands on my milky skin
where duct tape ripped them clean.
I was Ireland. I had embraced that.
I would hate Italy.
sun baked clay and unending ochre
would blanket my eyes,
overwhelm my melancholy sentiment.
Yet Italy, her hidden alleys
drenched in olive soaked lovers,
painted ceramic tile villages, and little old women
calling to neighbors they knew from infancy;
she was warm.
I wanted to paint my world “Burnt Sienna,”
the exact ruddy brown of those
Then, Ponte Vecchio mid-July:
the liveliness of earthy human ingenuity
buried under layers of packed dirt.
Cut by the Medici crossing and I, amidst
droves of vendors selling golden filigreed leather.
Bells rung in God’s turret above,
humming the pulsing
beating heartbeat of Florence.
A group of Hare Krishna
with unkempt ponytails and orange robes came
chanting, melodious and vibrant-
bronze and honeyed.
Cracked hands on a drum.
I am lost, still, among the shades.
The colors there, thickly spread, inside cathedrals,
cobblestone pathways, and hide strung drums.
I still hear Italy calling my name.