Five Points, Vol. 21, no.2

Sample Content

Dorianne Laux

I remember Italy for the water
falling from the mouths
of stone lions, the liquid
birdsong of sparrows, arias
floating from the open doors
of the Cathedral, so beautiful
you wanted to collapse
on the cobblestones
and crawl toward the sound,
your palms embedded
with 2000 year old gravel.
I remember biting into
A Penova apple, honey sweet,
crisp as winter, the mosaics
set in the walls, every window
flung open to the breeze,
the breeze scented with vanilla
from the pasticcera, filling
our lungs. It was so human:
the buzzing cafes and terraces,
the vendors, dogs and children
and doves in the street, the wooden
wheels of painted carts, the sun
surrendering to the shade
of red and green umbrellas,
their taut wire ribs. Even
the ugliest baby in a carriage,
its face still scrunched
from the womb, blinked
its dark eyes up to you
and banged its small fists
against its fat cherub thighs.
When we left I felt banished,
bereft that I couldn’t take
that town with me,
the little bell that tinkled
when we stepped in
and the cashier pointed
to an empty tiled table
where I first learned the word
for ice cream was gelato,
and the word for gelato with
a shot of espresso is affogato
al caffee, desert of the angels
that slipped over our tongues
and down our throats
like a landslide, a flavor
we would taste all day
as we walked the ungodly
hot streets, wobbling along
the uneven roads, our shirts
stuck to our chests with sweat,
smelling of genoa sausage, our breath
of onions and garlic, the olive oil
stain on my best silk blouse
I could never get out.