Six Cigarettes in Monterchi, 1994
We have no people here,
no family in Tuscany,
but we’ll pretend to call it home
for just a little while
between your heart procedures
while Amy’s in remission.
And I know I said I’d quit
after your bypass and Tom’s funeral,
but why risk the night sweats
and screaming in this beautiful place
where no one’s expecting us?
No one cares we’re here,
far enough from Piacenza
(where your cousin Italo
might drop by with pears
and wine) and far enough from San Donata–
with its ruddy, stubby men the spit
and image of my blue-eyed grandpop.
It’s enough tonight to fry my pork chops
Milanese and feed the stray cat
you named Bestaccio,
smoking the first of my last cigarettes
in the garden while he enjoys
some scrambled eggs.
I’ll smoke the second tomorrow
at twilight outside the open doors
to Della Francesca’s Madonna,
and the third after cheese and anisette
not quite as good as Meletti
but good enough.
I’ll smoke the fourth that same night.
and we’ll be the kind of happy
that people know they’ve stolen
and they’ll have to pay back
in serious meetings on rainy mornings
and oceans of sorrow.
But tomorrow it’s two hours to San Gimignano
to see the harpist surrounded
by swooning schoolgirls.
And I still have two cigarettes left.
Norma DaCrema is an Italian-American from Baltimore who teaches high school in Villanova, Pennsylvania. A May 2022 graduate of Arcadia University’s MFA program, she has published or has work forthcoming in Ovunque Siamo,The Lyric, The Night Heron Barks, Wingless Dreamer, The Common Ground Review and Viewless Wings. She lives with her son and a slew of cats.