The day crushed me
like a grape in its green pain as I read
a few words about my Uncle Enzo
at his funeral mass. My voice cracked
as I tried to decipher my handwriting.
The windows rattled a stained-glass hymn
when an airplane flew above the church. I wondered
if its passengers were shuffling in their seats
as nervously as my relatives were in the pews.
Then we went to a bistro around the corner.
Our whistles wet with Chianti,
everyone told Uncle Enzo stories, even my Aunt
Zia, his widow, who usually said
yes as a long answer to a question.
No was her short one.
She talked about the time he tried
to build a campfire in their backyard
by rubbing my brother's Lincoln Logs together.
My mother's hapless sigh rose in steam
from her plate of risotto,
her attention divided
between Aunt Zia and the crash
of broken plates; an off-key choir
scattered in the kitchen
like Uncle Enzo's ashes in the East River,
telephone wires stitching the sky.
Joey Nicoletti is the author of Borrowed Dust (Finishing Line Press). His poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, most recently Green Hills Literary Lantern, Stymie Magazine, Italian Americana, Tulane Review, and Bridging New York: An Anthology of New York City’s Bridges. He currently teaches poetry writing and literature at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York.