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January 17, 2006

Poem: Italian Princess

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A couple years ago during my senior year of college, my friend Nicki (Whose now married and living in Cali) joined me for a weekend trip home, during which she met my friends and heard stories about me and my family. Being the passionate poet that she is, she wrote a poem about the weekend. I was very honored and deeply impressed at how she was able to recapture the feelings of the weekend and the essense of my family. It was also interesting seeing the same weekend from outside eyes. Nicki was also the first person to graduate from Wheaton College in Massachusetts with a poetry concentration, read the poem below and you'll see why. Oh and she got the title, "Italian Princess" from a gold charm that's in my jewlery box, one my aunt gave me when I was in middle school or maybe even younger.

Italian Princess
By N. E. Tasker
She introduced me to her father
and then she said a prayer…
She made movements with her hands
as I stood in silence,
hovering over him as he lay
below the Impatiens that stared up at me.
She was in New York to see her Nanny:
someone unrelated by blood,
but linked by affection.
I was in New York to see how the absence
of family is crowned by the abundance of friends.

In the distance, the cemetery foliage is dying…
I don’t know this man beneath my feet,
but I’ve seen his pictures, heard his stories.
I don’t ask questions or force her to remember,
but I do listen when her memory speaks.

Forty-eight hours later
in Connecticut by the ocean,
we drank Merlot with her mother.
My senses virgin to the
maroon flavor of Clos du Bois,
she had to teach me how to relish.
The first sip, a raw introduction;
the second, the aromatic Napa Valley,
dismissing the sour fermentation;
the next, a noisy slurp splashing the tongue
and cleansing the palate;
finally, the swish of mouthwash-redwine.
Hard to remember, now,
the swallow of this drink
because it so quickly distorted my thoughts.

As the ruby liquid disappeared from
my glass, my mind drew crooked pictures
of family gatherings:
one-hundred plus people
imbibing on my new-found plum,
as they bring to life their past in pasta—
penne a la vodka and buttery cavatelli in
Settembre family red sauce—
each member glistening in yellow gold
as their voices chime high and their laughter
resonates in my ears.

It was then I saw
the shadow of an Italian Princess
and there I took a long drink
from her family tradition.
But it was in the constancy of shifting seasons
that death and absence silently drowned
in the ocean’s distant fury.

For more of Nicki's poems check out her poetry site I'm a fan of For What, Midnight Chant and Noon In New York City (I was there for that one too).

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