Children Of The Dark

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palermo-passage
Stone houses against
a mountainside, between
bushes of red gardenias –
hydrangeas near
lime and lemon trees,
near olive branches
and wheat fields.

A narrow street –
balconies and stoops
where town folk gather
in clusters, similar to
all clusters – along
each edge of mountains
in Sicily.

Villagers gather to share
secrets – or to be proud…
a cross, now pinned outside
of a cotton slip –
signifying a husband or
a son notified – soon
they shall return for
those they left behind.
Leaving America – a place
they only knew.

A gust of wind – a thin layer
of ash from Mount Etna
finds its way between
mountains – ash floats –
covering clothes hanging
to dry over an olive tree.

Women pray for spring to
bring heavy rains –
Women pray in June to
keep the rain away – for
it would kill tiny buds
growing on olive trees.

Women pray for husbands
to come home, to be happy
in their village filling sacks
with wheat – wheat for a
rich man – a family rents
its land – so women pray
come home, come back
this way.

This winter a few flakes of
snow crossed our mountain
top – kissed a palm tree.
For me, I can only write to
you about strange flakes
not ash on stone paths.

In the village, a simple stoop
of stone – where a hen struts
by to enter a home – with an
open door – where birds of all
colors – as the trees –
flock to hear music on streets.

Homes stand side by
side, deeper – instead of
wide – A simple stoop, where
women compare the price
of an artichoke, stitches
on cotton, wares from a
vender purchased early –
before sunrise.

Pictures of saints lined
on walls, nearby a picture of
the Brooklyn Bridge
One room – one table, and
chairs. Upstairs, what
women call a marriage bed.

At the end of a day
purple covers the sea –
a mountain sleeps – when
donkeys are tied in stalls –
children dream – some
stay awake counting stars.

Children hear prayers from
a neighbor’s home –
Children hear cries if a
letter arrives – knowing
someone will never cross
the ocean – will never
make it home – where
women gather – beneath
a tree – where older people
talk – about America
And in the dark children hear.

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