Loretta Casalaina




When I was young I went back home 
to the place I had never been
embraced by strangers that share my name
this child of the brother who sailed away
Was guest of honor at their Sunday feast

The cannoli came with a question, 
Avete questi in America? 

—Do you have these…?
Sì, Zio. Abbiamo cannoli in America. 
—Yes, Uncle, we do…
 Ah! he smiled,
Tutto il mondo è paese!
—the whole world is a village.

All my days spent in their midst
Zio posed the same question in many ways
wondering if things are different in America
Avete questo? Fate cosī?
—Do you have this? Can you do that?
My answer always, Sì, Zio! Sì.
He’d smile and say it again
Tutto il mondo è paese!

Fifty years have flown
I reach out across time zones 
to my family that shares my name

Come state? —How are you? In Italia?
In these days of desperation?

In isolamento, tutti a casa
—all at home, in isolation
In un mondo angosciante e surreale
—anguished in a surreal world

E voi, come state? they ask, anxious,
hoping that things are different in America

I say it again, their father’s refrain
Tutto il mondo è paese 
but I can’t smile


Loretta Spina Casalaina is a first-generation Italian American who traces her roots to Catania, Trapani, and Palermo. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Sweet Lemons, Gradiva, and Arba Sicula. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Loretta now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.