Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.


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by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio, in Rattapallax and Le Pagine (Rome), tr. Luigi Bonaffini

The Consolation in Being History


". . . quarried long ago in the haze/

of an Italian morning . . . ."


I. Winter


Then slowly turning unplayful, my mother's days

were nearly still,

becoming a frieze,


each abutting a long file of earlier days,

and paling more

the more recent.


In the last of the line of them,

she breathed such thin breathing

onto her merest memories -


of a red (the satin on a candybox lid),

a green (the lake lying under the trees),

a purple (the dusk fallen between her daughters)


that they

bleached away




II. Spring


Sister's door,

brother's door,

locked shut.

Mother's door,

father's door,

grass plots.




III. Autumn


With nowhere at all to place love,

I watched mummers

in a darkened barn on the straw hat circuit.


They were kind, were in a dumb show:

they looped themselves, braided air, caressed

a knee, lifted a wrist.


At the end, the music of flute stretched and collapsed

like a barber's strop,

and the footlights dimmed


to blue

and seemed the distant heaven

that is ever greedy for those we once have kissed.




IV. Winter


Wrapped in family silence,

I look at the February sea


until it seems the black marble of tombs -

miles wide

and quarried long ago in the haze

of an Italian morning,

its rough planes surprised

by the stonecutter.


On the morning of our mother's baptism,

was it already in the making?


Who ordained it then, so black

and heavy, to ride,

an ocean on an ocean,

to this Atlantic beach,

to crash here and transmute,


becoming, as I look, a surface

of Mediterranean prisms

and Adriatic hushings?

Minnows of light, love's whispers -

one needs these.




V. Summer


My brother, of the U.S. Army, has come into town!

He'll buy us a fish lunch


at the Rose Café,

the fans will whirr sweetly over our heads,

preserving in song his chopper's rescues,


the waiter

will snap to,


and I will drink in the sunniness

of the daisies in their stark vase.

Copyright © 2008 by Vinni Marie D'Ambrosio

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