Rosalia Dechbery


I was the curly-haired baby

in the white girello, learning

to walk, leaving tracks in farina

and powdered sugar, sticky

fingers streaking the vetrina

chased away by family members,

so that customers wouldn’t see

the baby traipsing about the Italian 

bread, aiming for the cookie trays,

with little fingers in a curious mouth,

pleased to be the pasticcere’s daughter,

until I was scooped up before I could touch

the crusty mafaldine and crumbly biscotti

that customers planned to buy 

fresh for that evening’s dinner.


I wondered if he knew 

he was being vetted,

a boy two months my senior

and barely fifteen years old,

considered a gentleman

caller by my Sicilian elders

who arranged the whole

scene and watched keenly

through the slatted doors

that separated the cucina 

from the salotto, as we sat

and made quiet conversation,

hoping not to make awkward

noises against the plastic 

couch cover, if we moved.

He must have known,

since his parents were 

from the same town in Sicily,

and he was aware of the half

dozen eyes that observed us,

unfazed by the spectacle unfolding. 


Rosalia Dechbery is a first generation Italian-American, poet and educator. Recurring themes in her work reflect struggles with cultural identity and experiences as the eldest daughter of an old-fashioned Sicilian family raised in Queens, NY.