by Nina Romano

When I was twelve
Grandma opened a gift in her
cauliflower white kitchen—
a basket of persimmons
my Aunt Jay brought
home from the Garment District
where she worked in New York City
to my nonna’s house on 85th Street
in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Orange balls,
not quite spheres
a bit pointy at the tops
with thick skins and juicy pulp,
almost tropical,
and one elongated seed per half.
I tasted and exclaimed,
what an exotic flavor.
Grandma pulled a face.
Not sweet enough.
She said, You’ve no idea …
How this fruit can taste—
it’s nectar from Eden’s
barest tree—
golden orbs hang
from leafless limbs,
their color more perfect
than nuggets
dug from mountains,
or panned in streams—
it’s a precious sun fruit
after all others have fallen
from late autumnal trees.

Why, child,
she said, holding one
to midday light
deep and lemony through
her kitchen window,
This caccho when ripe …
is Sicily, is Italy itself.

Years later when I lived
in Rome on the second floor
of a Palazzo on Via Prisciano,
two stout, lovely fruit-bearing trees
from the garden below
greened forth in spring,
and in the fall,
when their curling leaves
had flown far and dispersed,
a diaspora,
to parts unknown,
smooth Titian globes
were left to dangle
from bare limbs
that reached my terrace.

Before the birds could feast,
and when the fruit
was still not quite ripe,
I picked them in late November
to line my windowsills.
In a matter of weeks
I had a terracotta bowl full
of Christmas balls
worthy of any gourmand,
buon gustaio, or my Grandma.

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Filed under Issue 3, Poetry

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