Patron saint of children,
people who’ve lost something,
and barren women.
A boy of 16, leaves one island
for another. His mother pushes him
from the blood of WWI,
into the blood of coarser war: America.
He exhausts days on streets of South Philly,
sews other people’s clothes, sends money
home, a lifeboat, to his family.
Too short a childhood—so many siblings
behind him, the job as father:
a tight skin forced to stretch on.
His own at 20—surprise!
Then another and another and another,
Until his wife’s tubes are tied. Thirty years
spent grading math tests, running
marathons, dreaming of living in the woods,
and falling asleep at the kitchen table
red ink staining his elbow creases.
The boy. Three sisters.
And like air, music.
his fingers breathing
the keys of the piano.
ACTIONS MY INTERNAL ANCESTOR FORBIDS
1. Paying someone to clean your house.
2. Buying pre-washed greens.
3. Choosing the bag of pomegranate seeds someone else plucked from the goddess’ fruit.
4. using jarred spaghetti sauce.
5. throwing away the plastic bag your bread comes in when you can wash it out and use it for something else
6. throwing away your ripped and stained t-shirt when it would make a great rag
7. throwing away wrapping paper covering gifts received after carefully slitting the scotch-taped seams and folding a gamete pile next to you
8. Drying clothes in a machine on a sunny day.
9. Refusing food someone you love offers, even if you just ate and hate peas, you spoon into your replete mouth the entire mound, until your grandmother’s plate is clean.
10. Allowing a stranger to mispronounce your name, without correcting them.
11. Denying the magic of September light after families call children to dinner and there’s a patch of ivied fence slanting a rectangle of sun.
Gabriella M. Belfiglio lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner, toddler, and four cats. She teaches self-defense, conflict resolution, karate, and tai chi to people of all ages throughout the five boroughs.
Gabriella’s poem “Erasure,” won the W.B. Yeats Poetry Contest.
Gabriella’s work has been widely published anthologies and journals including Radius, The Centrifugal Eye, The Potomac Review, and Lambda Literary Review.
Her website is www.gabriellabelfiglio.info