Christine Baldino O’ Hanlon

Picture Us, Another Country, Another Century

I look at old photos of Compagna and Calabria
and see beautiful countryside.
I also see the reasons my great-grandparents left—
poverty, crime, lack of opportunity.

You and I, love—we don’t exist there.
Not even in New York City, the early 20th century.
Irish and Italian? No way.
You might be a cop.
But me? I’d be married off young.
Have a baby every year.
If I lived. If the babies lived.

It’s terrible to know history.
Takes away the mystery and nostalgia.
Even as a writer, the only scenarios I see—
you and I, widow and widower, meet later in life.
You come to arrest one of my mischief-prone sons
and fall in love with me.

That, I can picture.

Christine Baldino O’Hanlon’s first poetry collection, The Bronx Years, will be published in early 2023. In her poems, she recalls her rebellion, growing up in a 3-generation Italian-American family in the Bronx. The poems examine her relatives—with humor and honesty—and ask, what do we choose to inherit? Her poems appear in VIA: Voices in Italian Americana, The Paterson Review, and the anthology, Secrets, Rumors & Lies.