Sept. 28: Mary says, “Tomorrow is
Your mother’s birthday.” “Yes, she’ll be 97. . .
Would be 97.” I plant the garlic on her birthday.
Sept. 29: Bright morning sun, blue sky. Today
The perfect day to plant the garlic; shovel handle in hand,
I press Mother’s hand into mine:
Mother, Carmela Dolores (Caputo) Ciletti
exhaling, sending out her last breath to
Mingle with ours and the rest of the universe.
Digging the soil, that brown parchment-like page,
In the town hall on that hillside in Faeto, Italy,
The 1856 registry, of my great-grandmother’s birth,
My fingertip touching her ink-scrolled name:
I poke finger-holes into this furrowed earth, one by one
Snuggle in a clove of garlic. Breath of their breath.
Grandmother: Pasqualina Spagnoli Caputo, her hand pats my head,
teaching me how to stir the boiling pot of spaghetti.
Tip side up, another clove of garlic, and another, another.
Carmella Bruno Ciletti, grandmother, chilling rain that day,
You, spreading honey onto warm toast for me.
Mothers, in my fingers, hands, voice,
I “bless the womb(s) that bore me, paps that gave me suck.”
Winter: my mind’s eye sees, under the snow,
Cloves transformed by freezing cold .
Spring; water the green shoots of garlic.
July, shovel up purple-skinned bulbs of garlic.
The miracle of this. Smelling earth and plants.
Light sparkling in the sky. I breathe in all
All of my Mothers, surrounding me.
Seventh draft for Blog
James Ciletti, Oct. 1, 2013