(Marietta, Ohio, 1895)
Since you died, you've been singing
in a voice I don't know, deep as
Last night it was Luigi's song—the
works in my mind until it's all
I can hear.
Remember Luigi? my brothers
from college, and brought you to
took us both to the ladies' night
at the Club on Front Street—spaghetti
and those long Italian loaves of
Rivermen were chanting in the saloon
down the street, but you refused
to let me
anywhere near. "Not for a
lady," you said.
First Norman went to listen, then
but you stayed with me. Luigi
serenaded us with love songs—remember
his chef's puffed hat and round
He brought a sweet red wine to sip
that his father
had grown. He told us, Signor,
go Sorrento, showed us pictures,
perched on a cliff, a tall church.
Bluer than sapphire the water there,
a boat can drift above drowned Roman
Jewels gleam in sand a hundred feet
If you could dive that deep,
he said, you'd be rich.
He taught us a song, Sorrento,
villa amorosa, then disappeared
and we two
leaned over the wine, inventing
our own Italy, foreign foods more
than that stringy cheese, carriage-rides
on cobblestone streets, serenades
by the sea.
Time's a cheat like our river, rolling
the promises, keeping secrets buried.
We'll never see Sorrento now.
swells out of its banks, thins to
We let it fool us to loll in boats,
with lilies. Then it roughs
us up with a flood,
eats our houses. Whatever
it pushes us on, sweeps us downstream.
© by Ann Silsbee