To emerge from the rainhill—cradle of tomatoes, of mudslides, of hushed matchboxes of palazzi, of
commonbroom, that cling.
One anomaly of a dirteater child, and greeneyed, come down the mountain of the Madonna Nera
no longer dumb:
Miraculous, we guess. But he'd quiet such roots in the Harlem streets, their yawn, this pushcart
peddler, junkman, unknown
To the greatgrandchild of empty mouth. Our charred films show his Michelina with her
tambourine, skipping mute,
Belted word after word—Maria Michela of maiden name Espoused, Esposito, Bastard—
First of the generations distant enough, in wishful brush with a possible cousin,
I learn, shush.
Renamed, their first American child: here all Angelos were rechristened Charlie. Yet he only half
escaped the old clutch:
Called sister from the Jersey town hall & they gave him a Yankee Stadium honeymoon & enough,
get back to the shop.
That all discreet for seventyfive years. Lonely the claim that had the wind tended east Vesuvius
would've buried us.
Meantime we write Ronzoni to say his spaghetti begins to break in the pot. He sends hallclosetfuls
of pasta untenacious.
And the Bronx grape trellis gone. The splayed potato sacks embarrassing, screening the frontyard fig from
an Atlantic chill,
Gone. The lions in concrete guard stoops bare. And the common zoo, with its release from tar lots,
forsaken for one's own decorously landscaped
Square plot. Yet the father state still issues its passports to blood documented. Charlie, patriarch of 115
stubborn, holding your own in the projects,
Private chronicler of the passage, of the coldwater flat: it's all a feather in your cap.