Friday, January 27

Two Poems: Alex Gambacorta

The San Massimo Cures

Salt on my bug bites takes away the itch.
You dipped your pointer finger in the water.
You dipped your pointer finger in the salt.

Crushed the garlic clove in your arthritic hands—
forced me to smell its sharpness.
The smell you said, would clear me out.

You put too much honey in my tea,
and you would say, 
no one can take care of you but yourself.
I laid my head on your shoulder.

You worried I would catch a cold,
as if I could grab the thing out of thin air. 
The outside bite of wind 
might suddenly make my nose run,
and my chest tight.

Wet hair might cause my sickness,
you told me. 
Covered me in your scarf,
tied the knot under my small chin.
This damn thing. 
I kept it on while you watched me through your window,
walking home.

And I wanted to tell you, 
I don’t like the warm milk you make me drink for my sore throat.

I want to remember all the ways you care for me.
I want to remember the inaccuracies of your remedies. 
How could I tell you no, not the warm milk?

In a Foreign Land

You scoop up even the crumbs, 
that have broken free and drowned in the olive oil. 
And your big knuckled pointer finger,
drags along your plate, 
and you scoop up, even the crumbs.

Suddenly, I remember, 
being small and watching you,
pat powder on your chest. 
Gently under the collar bones,
gently around your wrinkled neck.
And you stood in the red heat light. 
It poured down on you.
And you stood in the light, 
smelling of that perfume.

You hold a needle between your teeth,
hating the rips in my jeans, 
threatening to sew on patches,
through your broken English.

With your thick, yellowed fingernails,
you put the thread in your mouth, 
you pull the thread through your teeth.

I love the way you chew your food.
The way it sounds between your teeth—
like gratitude.  
And you never let anything waste,
even your third day of leftovers—
unrecognizable and soggy. 
I am not so brave, 
or grateful. 

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