Vico Santa Caterina a Formiello
Streets obscured by fingerprints on glasses never washed. Watch the
masses pass with steely gazes, with elegance. Everything stores sell lotto,
dolls, condoms, and cornicelli. Preteens on motorini, nonnas on balconi.
Balconi spill speaker songs of neomelodica, of rap, Int’o Rione. Traffic
builds deep in the burrows of Forcella. Sunday ragu fumes simmer on the
stove. Settimanali soar in the air. White plastic chairs. Elderly gentlemen
recline in line, glue their eyes to the female curve. Crooked storefront
steps. Cigarettes in hand. Men in alleys sell contraband. Saints adorn
corners, protect powers behind glass shells, jewels for sale. No nonsense
nuns plow down Toledo, leather pocketbooks, bibles in tow. White loads of
laundry float like clouds, beat arm rails to the bone. O dottò parks cars in
Via Carbonara. Craters in the hardened lava. Shards of ocean shine
through a kitchen window. Boys glow blue in sala giochi screens.
Creme-colored buildings become a dark gray. Secret-saying nciucesse
strut by crushes, smack gum like it’s their job. Hot bods in miniskirts. Sweet
heat from bakeries. The breeze of Margellina, salty on the tongue. Silk
dresses grace the sidewalk, wade like angels. Young couples drape each
other in love words. Si a vita mij. Tattooed guagliù cin cin until the sun
sends them home. Fireworks bling bling – for a birthday, a wedding, a bail.
Young men on motorini race, they fly. Women with strollers, they get out
the way. Niccolò and I flick cigarette butts into Via Santa Sofia, Wait at the
seventh story and watch them descend, Follow the amber specks until they
meet their end.
Ma e figl tuj son propr nir.
Your daughters are really black.
Nunziata let go
of her babies’ dark fingers
and lashed her arms like whips
against the curling body of her neighbor.
If words were thrown, they didn’t matter.
Azzurra + Roberta,
tiny in their tiny blue dresses,
Not a twist of their Mary Janes or
blink of their eyes
which were transfixed on their mother.
who only moments ago was
teaching them rhymes +
pinching their cheeks.
whose nails were now jabbed
into their neighbor’s neck.
Whose hair had come undone.
Whose pantyhose had runs.
Witnesses rushed to their balconi, to their doors.
Alliances flew to each woman,
ripping them apart like rags.
Azzurra + Roberta
were dragged away by Nonna Ninetta.
She pressed their deep brown cheeks
into her thighs,
and gave them each a glass of milk.
Their mother returned bruised.
Zoe Trischka is Jersey-born, second-generation Italian-American who is constantly documenting personal and familial anecdotes, often set in Napoli or Italo-america. Her passions range wide, from writing to photography to music to documentary film — her current line of work. During her undergrad at NYU, Zoe spent three semesters in Italy, which allowed her to reconnect with her napulitan’ family and write articles for Rolling Stone Italia about the campana rap scene.