He Swam and He Wept
Tonight’s marinara is bright as lava,
& the January moon sits like a twelve-
month aged wheel of cheese. My husband
zests parmesan. He hunches over the deep
bowl, head down as if preparing to be
anointed. His gaze follows his fork
as he twirls himself to Sicily. I think
my spouse must be Inspector Montalbano
at a restaurant on the beach in Punta Secca,
the sky transforming to a Castiaro pastel.
He’s recovered from catching killers, dodging
the mafia, the church & rival claims of other,
far less good police officers to a case which is
clearly his. He’s staked out the fish market,
wandered the butcher shop, or he’s returned
from a swim & settled at a table with a bottle
& loaf on his veranda by the sea. He’s skipped
lunch, looked forward all day to caponata,
fresh clams, a salad of olive & orange, followed
by arancini, warm as two evening suns,
and at last a main: spaghetti with cuttlefish,
tomato, garlic, squid ink & parsley. A pinch
of chili flakes. When the feast is done, he leans
back in his chair, raises a glass, bougainvillea
cascading around him like a medieval robe.
The freezer moans as our ice machine switches
on, & after his last bite, my love balls up
his napkin & lifts his head back into Michigan
until next Sunday when, again, I let him go.
Janine Certo is the author of two full-length poetry collections, ELIXIR, winner of the 2020 New American Poetry Prize (forthcoming, New American Press) and IN THE CORNER OF THE LIVING, first-runner up for the 2017Main Street Rag Poetry Book award (Main Street Rag, 2017). Her poems appear/are forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, Nimrod, Mid-American Review, Gastronomica, and Italian Americana. She is an associate professor at Michigan State University.