Journey to Your Deepest Self

Hearing Italian

By Kathleen MacGregor

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I remember my grandmother’s house

And the smell of tomato sauce, spaghetti – steam warmth

and espresso bitter and promising.

I watched my grandmother do the dishes.

Her hands were always moving.

Sometimes she’d sit to grate

Parmesean cheese and she’d be resting.

Uncles and aunts would come there and

My grandfather would cook too.

He had been a chef and before that a

Cook in the Italian Navy.

He hired a barber to pull out all his teeth

So he could get out of service.

That’s the blood I have in me.

I remember the arguing sound of their voices-

Secret glances in my direction.

They spoke Italian and my father

Was keeping that from me.

He was a high school Italian and Spanish teacher

But wouldn’t teach me.

I think he was protecting me from something

But I don’t know what.

As soon as we got to my grandmother’s house,

She’d take me back

To her bedroom and

Wiping her hands on her apron

she’d slide open the closet door and

Pull down from the high shelf

A coffee can full of candy and money.

She’d give me some.

Then with my face full of bliss

I’d go out to the kitchen and listen to the talk.

She knew when I had fallen in love

For the first time

Because I didn’t want the candy.

Her name was Rosa.

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