Gaze upon the daisies—

I have cut and displayed them, centerpiece, in Grandmother’s pink vase from Italy, at an otherwise empty dining table.

Recall the feasts and laughter, conversations in English, and Sicilian dialect.

Oh yes, there was eternity to be found in the tomato sauce with freshly picked basilico from the garden.

There were years and miles of ceaseless love and nurturing, laboring—babies, sewing, ironing, shining fine silver, baking (fresh-cream, pears and apples, decadent chocolate, cinnamon, sugars, candied nuts, butter, and frosting!) 

They taught family every fundamental thing, as did our fathers, to live a life of honor and respect, thankful to God for all—pain and glory. And so, there were endless stories between the veins and thinning skin of my mother and grandmother’s hands that fried meat with garlic in harvest’s best virgin olive oil.

My father, grandfathers, and uncles, took pleasure in the fruits of their labor: cherished wives, beloved children, and groomed gardens of manicured grass surrounded by shrubs and cement stones, defined their ownership and success in America. Figs, strawberries, tulips—their pride—sweat and muscle in the bricks and tiles, designed and placed by them. A reward of pressed grapes in a jug takes the edge-off. My grandfather’s cigar smoke lingered, sweet and pungent.

Today, in this different home capture the ocean breeze and salted air upon entering. Impatiens borders the picket fence. It is far from the Brooklyn bakery, Bronx’s White Stone Bridge, or the Harlem streets where my father shined shoes.

I don’t think a Sunday exists as they once did, or that sunlight shines the same joy, or that music lifts a soul, or a Saturday morning excites; adventure, faith, dreams, or that hope remains the same.

Outside – sunshine, birds, honeysuckles, a bicycle horn (perhaps a basket sits upon it carrying a towel to lay in the sand and disappear from, well, anything weighing on a heart).

Inside, please, gaze upon the daisies because they smile and sing with love, not knowing…

Focus on the scent of bread rising in the oven because it is comfort and security.

Capture this performance of a smile. Believe me, please, because I have followed the recipe.

As I note the thinning skin on my own hands, and search the stories of those fine women that prepared me—for a day, a man, a way of life, like yesterday, and a world that remembers. 

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2021 All Rights Reserved