On the day after Christmas we wandered the streets of South Philadelphia in the 9th Street Italian market. Loaded with boxes of cannoli and babas, fresh ravioli and olives--all the things that seem just a bit more authentic to this Italian than the very same things that can be found in the Twin Cities--it is always a magical visit. This district includes a large residential area around and through the market streets--like this store front which reflected the typical Pennsylvania red brick row homes built flush with the sidewalks as well as vintage and antique accordions.
I am grateful for the strong feeling of belonging and history that I feel when I visit this part of town. I'm not really a stranger there. I hear familiar accents in the voices, young and old and can always find warm brown eyes of my paisans. So, today I skip this 'heritage' stone across the river.
She took to the road early, turning her face EastAway from the small railroad town where her immigrant grandfather
Sold groceries to cowboys and laborers
But no one recognized her name.
Arriving in her youth, she tentatively placed her feet down as divining rods
On the narrow cobblestones Paul Revere rode.
No one there had shared steerage with her family.
Dinner tables piled high with Sunday's best were long since covered with asphalt
in the city with broad shoulders.
Only drowsy, wine-soaked eyes met hers along the Chesapeake.
Bowing her head, she passed the old flagship church in South Philly.
True north she found his store at the edge of the market,
Falling out from the rest of the buildings like a torn piece of lace.
Shiny cannoli tubes, stock pots, strainers and randomly hung
Yellowing photos of boxers past their prime, Mussolini and the Pope
Her hand closed around his cigar stained, sausage fingers, his sweater's
Comparing origins, he had, in fact, heard her name before.
Turning to her Irish immigrant husband, the shopkeeper asked,
Did you get permission to marry one of our girls?
A familial smile parted her lips as
The small Calabrian dove in her breast
eased it's fluttering--
folded back its wings,
and calmly closed its eyes to rest.
Linking to River of Stones,2012.