We Didn’t Cross the Ocean – Mary Anna Scenga Kruch

To my sister, Linda

I wanted to tell you about our cousin Vittorio
who works the family farm in Italy
how his manner and the curve of his mouth
are so like our father’s how Dad’s childhood house
over a century old still stands
although the roof has fallen in upon itself
how the newer house now more than 50 years old
abides just yards from the old one
how the farm is tucked into Pofi’s foothills
how it rolls bright orange with its autumn-trellised
vineyard    greenhouse    and charming olive grove

how I wish we had flown across the ocean
as sisters do    sitting next to one another
going for broke in first class
toasting with wine in tiny bottles
how we would land in Roma    fly through Customs
rent a car and drive 35 miles of highway
like mad hatters in step with the boys
that ride the lines between two lanes
on their Vespas and motociclette,*
all the way to the farm

how Vittorio would run outside to greet us
and how your eyes would light up at the sight
of farina at midday waving from lush, lazy fields
how Pierina would spot us outside “playing”
when we should be accepting hugs and kisses
on both cheeks from Vincenzina and Franco
how the table in the outdoor kitchen
would be simply laid: a light lunch with pizza
fired in its own oven    home-brewed vino rosso
and trays of olives set out to tide us over ‘til dinner
how Pierina would have baked a sweet cake
now cooling on a rack near the window —
how she is strong-willed — runs the show
just like our mom    whose birthday is today
and how I miss her to tears and you even more

how you would love Roma with its crowded streets
end up at il ristorante for Tiramisu
while being serenaded near Piazza Novana
by the magic of guitar strings that wail with emotion
that pull us in closely to fully experience
what our hearts have felt since the moment
our feet touched ancestral ground
but how at this moment my sorrow runs
most deeply for all you must have borne but I most mourn
how you and I did not cross the ocean
to be among such loving family
who will never know you – and how after meeting them
you would never in a million years need
to be reminded how you belong
and how very much you are loved.

* motociclette (Italian: motorcycles)
**chiese (Italian: churches)
*** La Scalinata di Spagna (Italian: The Spanish Steps)

Mary Anna KruchMary Anna Scenga Kruch is a career educator and writer. Recent publications include Wayne Literary Review, Blue Heron Review, Silver Birch Press and a chapbook, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her first full-length collection, a hybrid memoir, is forthcoming from Goldfish Press this fall.