My father’s dream was to work hard
and make a lot of money,
to have customers come in droves and buy
dozens of pastries,
so the salesgirls—including my mother—
would have to pull out the largest boxes
and have hands quick enough
for the electric tying machine.
His dream came true.
In the 60s and 70s,
people all over Brooklyn circled the block
that bordered Borough Park
to bring pastries for their Sunday visiting
and to order three-tiered wedding cakes.
But occasionally there was a customer
who’d come in for just one sfogliatelle,
the most expensive and complicated pastry to make.
It was usually an old man
whose clothes were as bent as he.
The salesgirl would lift it from the showcase
with a piece of wax paper
and place it in a crisp, white paper bag
that she slapped against her thigh to open.
Smelling the sale from the back,
my father would step into the doorway,
and glare at the man,
the cost and labor rolling out in his head.
He’d wipe the back of his greased hand
against his mouth, watch the man leave
with the sfogliatelle, cursing him as he went.
Maria Giura’s first poetry collection is forthcoming from Bordighera Press. Her work has been published in Prime Number, VIA, Italian Americana, Lips, Godspy, and Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival. She has awards from the Academy of American Poets, Paterson Literary Review, and Salem College and was a finalist for the Milton Center Fellowship for her memoir-in-progress. Maria has taught at St. John’s University, Montclair State, and SUNY Binghamton, where she received her PhD (mariagiura.com)