NOTE:  This is a radical rewrite of a very old poem not found online.  It’s different enough in meaning and execution that I’m calling it a new poem.

Sing a song of Salvatore,

who married
my grandmother Luisa
after my grandfather died.

After my grandfather died
she had to sell the candy store.
My mother turned six the day he died.

My mother turned six the day he died.
My grandmother tried to hold it together
for her, but it fell apart. She went for relief

to the Red Cross and they told her,
don’t let it fall apart.  Dress up pretty,
hit the street, keep it together.  Lots of women 

do it.  Desperate times, etc. She 
didn’t.  Married Salvatore instead,
her dead husband’s best friend, seemed like

he needed a maid or something with three
old boys of his own. My mother was lost
in that; she found a way out. Went

overseas, met my father, married, had me,
moved back to take care of Salvatore
and Luisa. I remember a rough man with just 

nine rough fingers, lost one young with a single stroke
of a mason’s hammer. Smoked rough cigars,
spoke rough Italian I couldn’t decipher

through his whiskey-soaked emphysema. When he died,
I didn’t much care.  When my grandmother died
I stopped caring altogether. 

Sing a song of Salvatore,

the scary nine-fingered drunk
I never understood or much cared for.
I wonder what might have happened

to his amputation, if the only place it lives on
is in those dreams where I find it
wriggling under my pillow, which happen often, which is 

no surprise as what’s missing 
from my history so often
shows up there.

Luisa wasn’t buried next to Salvatore.
She has her plot
next to Antonio,

my sixty-years dead blood grandfather,
instead. I don’t visit their graves
except like this, out loud, from a distance,

whenever I wonder 
what it must be like 

to miss someone for that long,

what her dreams
were like, what might have come to life
under her pillow, night after night.


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

One response to “Salvatore

  • Léa

    I do understand not visiting. While my daughter was buried in Long Island, she is with me wherever I am. I have never been back as for me, she is not there.

%d bloggers like this: