Love Letter to Italy

Kyla Hill

Newly sixteen, 

we traversed my mother’s land,  

surely I would love her. 

Ireland:  

graveyard of ancestors, whisperings  

trapped underneath emerald valleys, 

crushed by thickly spread guilt, 

seashells bright blue on ashen shore.  

Our women  

 

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.  

I thought  

 

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  

 

hearth streets. 

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. 

Spring 2022