Luisa LoCascio

Luisa LoCascio


My Silent Mother                                                                                                              

At twelve with my tap shoes

securely tied with a black bow,

I planned to dance my way through life.

My Victorian-Sicilian mother with her flowered house-dress

securely wrapped around her corseted figure,

endured the tap-tap-tapping on the kitchen linoleum.

On hot summer afternoons with the shades drawn,

we’d sit in the kitchen that smelled of soap

and cleanliness, both in our own thoughts.

I wondered if I had broken her silence,

If I had asked her what her thoughts were

what she would have said to me.

But I never did

My mother and I never had any sit down hear- to- heart talks

that modern psychology recommends mothers have with their daughters.

No tête-à-tête for us.

My mother made statements; we didn’t have discussions.

I wish she had told me about black hearts

like the heart lodged in the man I was about to marry.

But quiet like a moth

that hovers over my window at night,

She never did

One night around 10:00 as I sat at the dining room table

working on a college research paper,

she walked in from the kitchen with a cup of coffee.

Placed it by my notebook.

Like a kiss

This sign of affection overwhelmed me.

I never remembered her hugging me or kissing me.

I had never felt her wet lips on my cheek,

like the wet kisses I give me grandchildren.

But when she placed that demitasse cup down

on the dining room table, to me it felt like a kiss.

And so, I got up the courage and asked:

“Ma, do you think I should marry Jim?”

Like the sound of broken glass as a precious vase

falls and shatters on a stone floor, she said:

“You have to live with him, not me.”

At that moment, I remember clearly

that she had broken her silence

and I was on my own.


Luisa LoCascio was born in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1937, to a Sicilian mother and father. who came to the States in 1913. When anyone asked if she was Italian, her father taught Luisa to answer, “No, I am Sicilian.” This Sicilian-ness has never left her. Now approaching her eightieth birthday, Luisa has taken the stories her father told her about Sicily to write a memoir about growing up Sicilian in America. In the process of researching her parent’s town of Cerami, a tiny hamlet perched high in the Nebrodi mountains of Sicily, she discovered a massacre that occurred as Garibaldi was ready to launch his march with his rag-tag army through Sicily in 1860. She writes about the social and political climate that led up to the Italian Revolution.