the jar

I found an old jar in her kitchen
that for long had remained unused

it was like one I remembered from childhood
that I used to cling on to

the trees in my mother’s garden were many and beautiful
though she lived in a small apartment
by the sea

of the silent guest at her table
she would talk to her family

yes the trees in my mother’s garden were beautiful
but the jar
I threw into the sea

of the silent guest at her table
the sea has no memory

parcels from Italy 

when I was a boy
I would receive

parcels from Italy
quite regularly 

books
I could not read

clothes
too small for me

maternal greetings
fripperies

now I miss them 
infinitely 

from another ocean 

tales were told at table

that night
and when it came to my turn

I said
why is it always my turn

and the answer came back
you’re the only one

here
so I recounted the days of my

youth
which I missed grievously

and told
of sorrows and lost loves

and worse things
wearing my heart wide open

recalling
the story of the whale mother

singing
to her stolen calf unceasingly

even
from another ocean

wind through grass

she sat there like an old lioness
presiding over her wounds

and when she told of the children she’d abandoned
some fifty years before
who’d turned out alright
I saw tears well up behind her eyes

take away that prop I thought
and the whole citadel comes down

the whole citadel
that I am reminded
houses the soul

then I remembered my own mother
her own props and evasions
and a sudden gust rippled my conscience
like wind through grass

that night I dreamt of a white horse
standing in a burnt-out barn
stranded and irrecoverable

Infinite Sorrow

I have been to Rome many times,
though not for some years.

I went to see an old lady in Balduina,
overlooking St Peter’s.

I saw little of the city, however,
spending much time in the kitchen,
listening to her talk
as she prepared the evening meal.

How she could talk.

“Sonny,” she would say,
“in your life you have suffered greatly.
But I have suffered infinitely.”

She cooked the best veal
I have ever eaten.

Infinite sorrow can taste pretty good.