THE CEMETERY AT LUGAGNANO
In Memory of Arnaldo Grazzi
To those I love lying here in narrow crypts
in the faded stone walls or in graves beneath
the soil, I bring April's bounty--white lilies,
daffodils, heavy stalks of blue hyacinths.
Photographs encased inglass and fixed to the stones
testify that these dead are alive forever--
eyes full of light, lips ready to laugh or kiss.
I remember the delight of their voices at table,
of arms embracing me, of cheeks against mine
whenever I returned, and when I departed.
I see them now as I saw them that autumn afternoon
in Vecciatica more than twenty years ago--
I on the road and they near the top of the pasture,
raking the fragrant hay into straight lines for Arnaldo
on the tractor to bale. After that first evening meal--
a minestra thick with cannellini--my vision
blurred from too much wine, I could barely
make them out through the tobacco smoke.
Always now, bread, pecorino, and the daze
from red wine remind me of them, their auras
in the blue smoke hovering above the cluttered table
after those prodigious dinners on feast days
when Inez and Anna built a mountain of tortellini
and Fortunata snapped up a green mound of fagioli--
crick crick crick -- all morning into the clay bowl.
O that they could come with me now
through the iron gate and up the road home--
so distant, for I have not lived here for a long time,
having stored away one life and taken down another.