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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unsung Songs

"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you."
--Maya Angelou

Some stories we bear as whispers
secrets too terrible to tell
silently they cower inside us
lacking the courage to fly
their telling unspoken
of places so broken
the heart is unable to mend
but life and its woes
its joys and its blessings
calls us to rush out the door
race through the streets
let loose a whoop
gather the stars in our arms
in the dark of the night
under the light of the moon
the places inside you are listening
with the mouth of your heart
let the telling begin
sing the unsung songs of your soul
unsilence the stories you've silenced
unburden your bones and be free
dance in the dark with the gypsies
relinquish your agony

Thursday, January 6, 2011

La Befana

With eyes the color of mortal sin
a heart as magical as the moon
she spends her days sweeping
and baking
mending and tending
preparing her home for love
and for hope.
Some say the Magi stopped at her doorstep
inquiring about Bethlehem;
they wanted to visit a special child,
they asked Befana to show them the way,
travel with them; but she declined.
Wiping tears from her cheeks
she longed to cradle her own dead children
long ago taken from her arms.
The Magi left, but Befana’s sorrow did not;
she filled a sack with toys
and cookies, bread and sweets
to soothe the soul and sustain the body,
she straddled her broomstick,
flew from house to house,
leaving presents on darkened doorsteps,
seeking the Divine in every child,
not one, particular, Savior born in
a manger or a cave,
but all the girls, all the boys
whose laughter and joy
save the whole, wide, round
world from despair.

Note: In Italian folklore, La Befana is the kind, old woman with magical powers who brings gifts to the children of Italy on the eve of the Epiphany.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Blessings of Ravioli
The ravioli lay on floured
pillow cases on your dining room table
looking like stuffed pillows
themselves —
the dough kneaded smooth,
then rolled to the right thickness,
the spinach and ricotta filling
dropped like clusters of
snow-crusted grass
onto the naked strips of pasta,
plumped into fullness
with a quick fold of the dough,
the corners tucked in place with the
pinch of a fork.

Your hands move in a holy rhythm.
You anoint the ravioli with
flour to prevent them from drying out.
White halos the arch of your cheekbone as
you laugh and sprinkle, saying,
“Bless these ravioli,” like some Italian nun.

I laugh, too,
reminded of my Catholic grade school days.
I wish we had known each other then.
We could have draped our little girl bodies
in my grandmother’s
gaudy red and yellow aprons
and watched her wrinkled fingers press each ravioli
into perfect form.
“The secret’s in the touch,” she told me.
Life is full of such holy mysteries.

How could I have known
the blessings of ravioli
passed from Grandma’s hands
to mine, and now to yours.
I touch your floured fingertips
and smile.
There is grace here
and beauty beyond words.

©1993, Mary Saracino
Originally published in Writers Who Cook, Herringbone Press (Minneapolis: 1993).