Janine Certo

Janine Certo

He Swam and He Wept                                                                              

                   -Andrea Camilleri

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.