The Fruits of Famine wins World Food Day Poetry Competition

Italian-American
(for Sophia and Mario)

It was October in Montegufoni.
Steel-jawed crushers wolfed Chianti grapes
in joyous cartfuls, and pomegranates
insinuated purple light from dooryards.
I stood outside the castle, waiting
with the others for the autobus to take us
to Florence or Lucca or San Gimignano
when another bus, the color of sorbetto di limone,
pulled into view. Small children, taking
no notice of the queued-up Americans,
tumbled out of the bus, clutching soccer balls
and Hello Kitty or Donald Duck lunchboxes,
laughing in a language I did not know.
But I thought of another bambina just born
an ocean and a continent away,
her mother—my niece—the same northern mixture
of Irish-English-German-Dutch as me,
her father one generation removed
from Sicily and Abruzzo.

And now I think of due bambini,
sister and brother, growing up in a place
where crushers wolf Cabernet and Zinfandel grapes
for Mondavi, Parducci, Sebastiani.
The first time they went to Italy, they wanted
to travel by balloon. The second time,
Pope Francis blessed them at Easter Mass.
They're renowned from Pescara to Santa Rosa,
these mighty swimmers and marathon readers,
heroes of Golden State soccer fields,
fans of Team Italia, growers of pomegranates.

First published in Innisfree Poetry Journal.