I watched it all blow away, every stone millimeter of statue; my lust
forever intensified by Mussolini’s fascist charms, same as the madness
of the village dinks cackling obscenities at the Germans who seized
each of our towns; the children understand nothing; their skins flapping
with the salt water breezes rushing into the dry charcoal atmosphere.
That summer was like a seaside dream before they blasted the Gelato house.
We thought death was beyond us, but the crucial moment flared and the mortal
in me screamed at two boys hiding in ruin, Scappa! Scappa! Su! Dai!
Run! Run! Come on! Up! Away! Let’s go! The younger one yelling, pointing: Bomba!
Distant screams are heard. We run on. Almost two kilometres to the tracks.
I am sorry about the missing luggage and the few clothes. I am panting,
ecstatic to catch you, I fumble falling toward us in the excitement of
my words. You, an anxious anomaly pacing at the furthest corner of
the station house. The two boys scurrying ahead. I tore my silk dress that day
— the one from Alfredo, our tailor.
When our eyes met and you looked me over all sooted, you yelled:
“We could have been on time before the collapse began!” I took time
to prepare my best dress and luggage when the blitz came, unexpected,
three hours early. Despite the train blast and the loss of our gold,
that is how I forever know you love me.
I knew when they pelted you seconds after I spoke, it was the last song
from your mouth. How long I stood cowering over you. A deliberate strawberry
ecstasy of blood, shredded silk and coal. The boys too frightened to return.
How long I cower still, over the proud gas oven that survived the ruin of our home.
The one thing I could save. The kitchen floor a marbled purple dust.
dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini
Sonia Di Placido
This poem is published in the Forthcoming Poet to Poet Anthology, Guernica Editions, 2012.
And the forthcoming poetry book ‘Exaltation in Cadmium Red’ by Sonia Di Placido,
Guernica Editions Ltd., 2012.