Squirrel Hill

“Poetry is an act of resistance. ”
       — Mahmoud Darwish
Eyes of the author.

Emily De Ferrari

PHOTO: Emily De Ferrari

Emily De Ferrari joined the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop in 2023 and is grateful for the expertise and camaraderie of this group of poets. For the bulk of her adult life she has balanced midwifery, motherhood and meddling. Since retirement and covid she’s begun to workshop her poems, and some have been published in Italian Americana, Vox Populi Sphere, Persimmon Tree, Intima, Uppagus, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (prior to the strike.)

Lie, Truth, Truth, Any Order
To survive,
the most honest woman
I know
hides a bottle of vodka
under the kitchen sink
behind the steel wool.
Sicilian Triptych

The honest water of the Mediterranean
dances over pearl white stones,
nuzzles the cerulean sea coves of azure and sapphire blues,
encourages aqua marine fish to play with us
in the brilliance of sunlight at our feet.
The honest water, like a smiling
Etruscan dolphin, calls us
to deeper clarity, where we fail to notice,
at the gleaming bottom,
the bones of our greed.
These honest waters, flow over the ancient debauchery of Baiae,
over the volatility of Marsili, bring to shore the bodies
but we do not see them.
Instead we eat at well set tables,
the fish that wove through rotting flesh.
We do not recognize the taste of blood in our mouths.

The desert and the sea
are not
in our crimes,
but are
as real,
as wide,
as fatal
as the abyss
engineered between us.

Diallo’s wooden wheelbarrow kicked up dust
as he approached us at the open gate.
Where are you going?
It is impossible.
This property is private.
He smiled enthusiastically,
gesticulated detailed directions over public roads to our destination.
He’d come from Senegal,
piloted a boat across the rough passage,
laid eyes, in the water, on the land,
upon the remains of people not as lucky as he.
Spent 21 days in an Italian jail, months on Sicilian streets.
Life is to be embraced and loved in all its rich wonder,
where beauty is a buffer against the unbearable.
When the season is over,
when the boats are pulled up and put away,
when the restaurant is closed and the shutters secured,
when I am in my kitchen
watching red oak leaves fall,
he has a hearing in Milan.
His future, he said, is unknown.

Published in Vox Populi Sphere, June 9, 2021