She was from having to learn to read and write
before her parents did and then having to teach them.
She was from her father jumping out of the window
at 3:00 A.M. during Prohibition because the police
were chasing him, and from a mother who squawked
like a chicken when she was upset and who got kicked
out of shoe stores because she complained so much
about the way the leather stretched too tight over the toe.
She was from so many cousins in the house on Sunday
afternoons she lost track of which one was Virge or Paolina
or Marguerite, but she had the one very special cousin,
Tootsie, who was like her sister, but who died from TB
when they were both only 20, and whose death
she never fully forgave, even though she was from rosaries
and novenas and suffering on the cross and offering
it up. She was from getting married on a Thursday morning
in a gray suit, not a wedding dress, because 31 was too old
back then to be a real bride. And she was from a wedding breakfast
at her cousin Nazzi’s bar on Canal Street and from a husband
who farmed acres of strawberries and eggplant and spent
more time planting and pulling weeds, and walking the rows,
singing c’e la luna mezz’o mare than he did in the house talking
with her, and who dropped dead one Easter Monday,
when the children were still too young to have a dead father
and she was too young to have a dead husband.
And she was from having to learn to live alone and hating it
because the house was even noisier now with all that silence
and she could not bear to live in all the clatter.