By Patricia Polak


Throughout Bay Ridge proprietors of jewelry

and specialty shops look expectant near

the feast of St. Rosalie

dizzying aromatics perfume from the kitchen

where zias Domenica, Carmela,

and Annunciata labor

pilgrims to the house to pay respects to nonna,

Rosina Felice, on her saint’s day,

expect to be surfeited

the three zias are pressing sheets of dough

for manicotti; there will be

whole roasted lamb and suckling pig

in an assembly line of Calabrese origin—eons

older than Henry Ford’s—the sisters will fill

cannolis and cream puffs

nonna’s two eldest granddaughters, Rose Anne

and Rose Marie, buff, wax, polish, vacuum

rooms where a dust mite is rare as a

space alien

then a hush falls upon preparations

and a bedroom door cracks open

escaping the sound of

an Italian radio station

nonna makes a slow inspection

as she heads for her chair;

and Rose Anne and Rose Marie vie

to bring her in the living room

the licorice cup of demitasse

for an Italian grandmother, nonna is tall,

and she is heavy with many childbirths;

for a long time sumptuous living,

and a traitorous body

Rosina Felice settles into the tapestried wing chair

and her leg troubled by diabetes

goes upon a leather footstool                                                                                   

she has light olive skin, small features,

and she is quite vain—

including about her wedding dowry

of a large, square aquamarine ring

and matching earrings

nonna anticipates her afternoon:

with the footstool, to approach her

to give the mandatory kiss upon the cheek,

it is necessary for her visitors to kneel

upon one leg

she sips her demitasse:

Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile? Rosina Felice’s!

            E bene…the day of Santa Rosalia


Patricia Polak is a poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Baby Boomer Birthright, Cape Rock, Compass Rose, The Great American Poetry Show, The Griffin, Karamu, Many Waters, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Poet Lore, RiverSedge, Ship of Fools, The South Carolina Review, The Southern Humanities Review, and Wisconsin Review.  She is enrolled in the Master’s Program in Writing at Manhattanville College.  She has traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.  For two years, she lived abroad in the countries of Eastern Europe and Russia.  A native New Yorker, she resides in Manhattan with her husband, a historian. 

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