They had their own churches in their own
parts of town, some with domes like onions.
My uncle who got around told me they plastered
money on the pictures, and threw coins
at all the saints. When they died they were buried
standing up. Soon there would be no songbirds
because they ate them with greens
grown around the Virgin and a fruit tree.
My uncle said they did mean things to
the palms of their hands, toughening them
because they didn’t know how to take
civil service tests. Their homemade wine
got you snorting like a palomino,
and they locked their daughters in bedrooms
till they clawed the doors like dogs.
He said their doctors were nothing but
thieves in sharkskin, the women were slaves
who scrubbed linoleum on weekends,
and one spring I watched a foreign grampa
paint a picket fence white,
whispering to it on his knees. When my cousin
married one of them with the liquescent
eyes of a bride, my aunt had to leave
the church too early. They threw confetti
on them and drove through town like mad,
honking the horns, with pink and blue
crepe paper on the cars.
After, we ate figs soaked in rum.
In Moramarco’s Bakery the cakes were white
and pink, sometimes even blue. All day
Bob worked in the back, his arms powdered from
pushing the dough he chopped to loaves
and slid in the oven on wooden shovels.
On my way home, though my mother
was going to kill me, I ripped off a warm heel
to chew while the winter dusk came down
to four feet off the ground.