Salvatore learns English from the movies
where Charlton Heston holds the writhing
Anne Baxter, a white actress made-up to look Egyptian
and tragic. When she pulls away it means hold me closer,
I don’t care if I’m caught. Sal’s mother hides
in the subway to spy on the 6 o’clock train,
her husband parting the crowd with his Heston chin.
She says it’s her fault she married
a Northern Italian—blond and light skinned,
a mouth full of straight teeth. She cuts
the eggplant without looking, whole garlic cloves
and basil; serves everyone before she serves herself.
Below their apartment the same old
drunk starts to rant about his whore of a wife.
Sal’s mother clears the plates with a look he will inherit
and pass down—a creased brow un-creasing
with relief, when life is bad but not as bad
as it could be. Curses barge through their window
mixing with the voice of Moses, as the desperate
drag everything they’ve got across the parted sea.