Carmela Delia Lanza


The smell of the water,

the view as we approach the stop,

after all the noise of Kennedy Airport, Heathrow,

crowds pushing to get on the airport train,

we step into silence, hearing the sounds of plates,

a metal spoon scraping a pot on the stove,

this is not our city, this is theirs for so many years.

We walk into this dream of seawater, stone, and history.

Our voices lower without suggestion or command,

we just know what we should sound like here.

“I wanted to protect you from the rising ocean,

I wanted to be there to hold you in my arms

when the wave appears.”

We are leaving the desert this early morning,

this world is disappearing as I write this down

words on paper floating away from me,

swallowed before I have a chance to

gather in all the letters of each word.

This is not the first time I have walked through water;

the patio is there with all the familiar cracks and the rain

goes on forever, gray after gray,

wet picnic bench and table

that sits there, uncovered,

confronting the storm,

only the fig tree in the back is nestled in for winter.

I smell the wood of the old windows,

feel the damp splinters under my fingers,

breath on glass, old pants above my ankles,

all I see is the wet grass, weeds growing

in cracks of the sidewalk,

I shiver as I lean into the hissing radiator

imagining a world that is not so flat

with my little girl hope.

I have not yet been to Venice,

but born from water, worked over garden soil,

smell of sour begonias, skin never really dry,

seagulls circling overhead looking for trash,

it is leading me there, leading me away.


Carmela Delia Lanza’s prose and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Coming from a working-class, Italian immigrant family, her writing focuses on identity and cultural transmutation. Her first chapbook of poetry, Long Island Girl, was published by Malafemmina Press. Her second chapbook of poetry, So Rough A Messenger, was published by Finishing Line Press. She currently teaches writing and literature at University of New Mexico at Gallup, in Gallup, New Mexico.