A poem I wrote recently about my travels through Italy in spring 2019 after losing my grandmother unexpectedly just a week before her 95th birthday. She’s on my mind lately as the snow is melting and days are growing warmer. She died on Easter, which is fitting as she was the center of our family Easter traditions, baker of Easter casadella cakes and pizza gain. Rest in Peace Grandma Betty.
I fly away from you,
away from the wooden box
that holds your ashes.
Once I land,
swallows are everywhere
like the Scirocco
sweeping up from the south,
dancing like patterns on the robes
of the Senegalese women who sell wooden beads at the market,
black shapes cutting into blue sky.
They appear in Siracusa
where the old men sit lined up in the square,
brown hands folded in rest
and again in Sienna
spilling from the clouds like seed,
pouring over the city’s stone walls,
flowing out over rooftops.
In Venice they flutter above gargoyles like confetti
as if trying to escape tourists
who trail in pink plastic ponchos and rain boots
like a carnival parade
in and out of alleyways,
across ancient bridges.
They follow me to San Michelle,
the stone city of the dead,
mosaics and iron crosses,
mourning doves roosting like
stone angels above children’s graves.
There a chapel sits empty,
a row of wooden chairs waits
beside a candle lit by some unseen hand.
My own angels resting.
The end of a migration.