In your Northern Bronx home, set against
The room with the crimson carpet and plastic
Covered furniture, you play with me, and recall
Memories of how for a year you wore
Black for your mother then, after a year, after a month, repeated
Modeling darkness when your brother, too,
Flew to the angels, who come two and take pairs in few.
Two ages—six and five—the height of childhood, yet
Were sad, and wore black all the time.
You talk of this, followed by your father’s remarriage, and how
The baleful men from Germany, the villains of the Axis
Invaded your town on the island where you lived, yet
Another invasion on a land that saw nothing but
Hundreds upon thousands of conquers and wars.
And when this happened you hid, with your brothers and
Sisters, too—disguising yourselves as sheep among
The wool, before fleeing to a cave, surely dark enough to hide,
While searching for your stepmother’s touch, and lie
Against a shadow, to hug you goodnight, only twas not
Her, but a stranger, who tossed you off her side,
And you left, with a sigh. Now I see your demeanor
Change as multiples of happiness grace your face
As you talk of the children you’ve had— three,
Before turning to a look of gloom as you
Remember and recall—four.
Oh grandmother, oh matriarch, oh Nonnina!—how I wish
I could go back in time, and hope to see you, to hear
These stories again. How the little girl who grew up longs
To hear more, but I can’t—I, too, have memories of
Nothing but darkness and black, ever since you, yourself, have
Been flying with angels for five years.