Stephen D’Alessio


Drowsiness from the car ride burns my young eyes as I stare up at the grinning old man before me.

Excitement blazes from his fierce gaze through the doorway.

In a second, I am dangled upside down, a firm hand gripping my ankle.

“Hey Steve babe!” Papa barks.

A pinch on my cheeks signals my passage to Nana.

I am bounced to the sound of Italian words

telling a tale of cats and mice chasing each other around the kitchen.


My feet pound the gravel and grass.

My brother and I chase each other around the sunny lawn.

Suddenly, I feel a vice-like grip on my shoulder.

 I am hauled as prisoner into a patio chair.

Papa squints, interrogating me in all my four years.

He asks where we are sending me to college

for surely I am a Catholic school boy.


Nana struts out into the kitchen with the evening’s pasta.

It is a hard day of work, crafted off of a precious recipe from an ancient text

except for the one bowl, one sacrilege, without any greens

for me.


As night falls, I creep through pristine back rooms while the adults talk quietly with their coffee.

Within forbidden chambers, I see black and white pictures of mysterious people I have never met.

They are lives of lost ages and distant lands, yet somehow I can see myself in them.

I am part of their story, one sparked long before I was a thought,

a journey of courage, sacrifice, and love.



Stephen D’Alessio was born and raised in Glen Rock, New Jersey. His ancestors come from Avellino and Bari. He attended the College of William and Mary and graduated summa cum laude with a double major in English Literature and Government. He currently resides in Arlington, Virginia, where he works as a paralegal for the Department of Justice.