Try as he may, he cannot step
on the paisley sweater
his daughter abandoned
on the bathroom floor,
one of its folded sleeves pointing
upwards to protect a synthetic life;
its position reminiscent
of how the garment’s fabric
conceals her pockmarked arm
shutting out her father
and the sun, a limb raised
to eclipse her almond shaped eyes.
No. 249 on the S.S. Saturnia
In the first year we migrated
to the great white north
the local church donated coats
to a family who could not conceive
of a winter’s cold that ate
into neural signals deadening skin
to match the look in our eyes.
My father’s vision went
from bloodshot to blurred,
facing the windswept snows.
My mother buffered the wind,
motioning us to walk behind her;
to step into the carefully positioned
tracks of her non-insulated boots.
When Uncle Mimmo came over
he would take me by the arm
and show me how an Americano walks
sometimes he’d tell me to imagine
that we were strolling in the piazza
in San Sosti - a place I had never seen,
loitering in the sports bar
by the Agip gas station
whose attendant, Michele, he said,
had always wanted a 1969 Ford Fairlane.
His eyes looking past me
at everything he’d left behind
that afternoon under a Calabrian sun.