Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.


Text Box:

by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, in Voices in Italian Americana






Why does he pray, every Sunday,

the old man in the pew before me -


"May my wife see the light" - ? Every Sunday,

during the parish


Intercessions, the same words float

in a cavernous whisper from his massive


chest. His head, even bowed, seems monumental,

its crop of whiteness


like a buffalo's mane in moonlight.

I hear him clearly - always he's chosen


the second row, and ritually I take the third.

And always


nearby he has the same black suitcase,

its canvas sides stuffed to bursting -


with what pantomime of possessions I

don't know.


Standing, we each hang onto

the warm wooden bench-backs,


red hymnal in hand, thin pages lying still.

No gilded transept


or carved mahogany baldachin faces us

but an altar that's plain as the plainsong


spiraling down in clear gray air from an invisible

grove of singers.





I'm not certain I should be revealing all this -

that at the entreaties for Intercession


I've learned to anticipate the pained,

private words,


"May my wife see the light,"

rolling around soft and deep.


The incantation - is it his eleventh-hour

love, or


the warning crack of doom? You can see how

a person might come to dwell


on this Byzantine triptych - an ancient and homeless

groom, a rusty


and hopeless bride (her gaze darkly averted,

his flaming), and, between the two,


a figure of mystery leaning one way and then

the other, listening.

Copyright © 2008 by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio

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