In the mirror there I can’t see myself.
I see my grandmother’ eyes looking back at me
and remember how I made them cry.
She is the strongest person I know
and in one mad moment, thinking of myself
I made her weep.
I was distracted worrying about overweight baggage
and departure times
I forgot about her, until the moment I departed.
I had no more time to waste;
only a few seconds to hug her.
I need to remember her smile, her laughter,
the softness of her moistened skin,
the violets in her garden, I can’t leave her behind.
I filled my suitcases with books, letters and photos
but what I needed was to take her with me.
I need her strength, her stubbornness,
her determination, her right judgement and her wit.
I hug her and everyone desperately needing
to take them with me.
With my embrace I made her cry.
I took my Nonna’s tears with me as she took her father’s.
My grandmother’s eyes look back at me from my mirror,
they are strong but the sadness is still in them,
I have inherited the same melancholy, it binds
us together across the veil of death and distance of time.
Now those eyes see what my grandmother left behind.
They see the mountains that eat up the sky,
the breathing living mountains
pumping with blood below layers of earth.
I see her paese
I see the winter nights where she snuggled in bed
close and tight to her sisters
so firmly their skin stuck together.
I see the abandoned fields where she used to work,
sow wheat which she harvested, bailed, milled and made into bread.
I see the water fountain where she rinsed her linen,
beating them on the stone edge of the gebbia
like an Indian woman on the Ganges.
I am where her memories live.
Here her friends are gone and her family is slowly dying out.
I am far away from her, all I have are her memories
retold to me through everything I see
and her eyes looking back at me in the mirror, there.