by Rina Ferrarelli

A stain like wine on the fresh
Italian bread, and the small
wild cherries glazed,
shining like garnets. You pause,
allow their beauty to fill your eyes.
You count on the bread and jam
to be fragrant and sweet,
and a little bit tart,
but the marmellata you like so much
tastes sour this morning.
It's the same jar you've been dipping into
in a month of scattered days,
the one with the sepia label
of a Trappist monastery, rectangular
buildings making a square
around a courtyard, a setting
you know intimately--you played
in the cloisters of one like it--tall,
floor to arch windows
looking out on an inner garden:
formal arrangements, fixed,
pre-set boundaries. Predicable,
unlike the subtle change
you're experiencing today--a random
occurrence, perhaps, temporary,
too much or not enough of some
substance, a trace element even,
that's all it takes sometimes
to tip the balance.
Or it could just as well be
something pre-disposed:
a timer that goes off inside,
releasing or withholding hormones,
enzymes, proteins, starting
or shutting off functions.
Of 300 buds on each papilla,
(your senses sharper than most),
how many are left? Even the coffee
bitter, despite sweetening.
You wonder what it is
and what it means within the body/
mind conundrum, and whether
you'll invent reasons
that have nothing to do with chemistry
because you can’t stand the void.

VIA:Voices in Italian Americana

Rina Ferrarelli's picture

Rina Ferrarelli came from Italy (Calabria), at the age of fifteen. She was awarded degrees in English from Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University ) and Duquesne University, and taught English and translation studies at the University of Pittsburgh for many years., She has published a chapbook and four books of original and translated poetry, the most recent Winter Fragments: Selected Poems of Bartolo Cattafi, (Chelsea Editions, 2006). The Bread We Ate, another collection of original poetry, is forthcoming from Guernica Editions., Her poems have won awards at local and international competitions, and were nominated for best American poetry. She received an NEA grant, and the Italo Calvino Prize from the Columbia University Translation Center., Her own poems have also appeared in publications such as these:, Along these Rivers: Poetry and Photography from Pittsburgh (Quadrant Publishing, LLC, 2008); American Sports Poems (Orchard Books, 1988), BSU Forum, Barrow Street, The Chariton Review, Chelsea, College English, The Critic, 5 A.M., Italian Americana, Images, Kansas Quarterly, Kindled Terraces: American Poets in Greece (Truman State University Press, 2004), Kiss Me Goodnight (Siren Book Co, 2005), Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places (John Gordon Burke Publishers, 2000), Larger than Life (Black Moss Press, 2002), The Laurel Review, Line Drives (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002), The MacGuffin, Main Street Rag, Mss. Magazine, The Milk of Almonds (The Feminist Press, 2002), The Panhandler, Paper Street, Paterson Literary Review, Pennsylvania English, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Poet Lore, Pyramid Magazine, Poetry NOW, Tar River Poetry, VIA, West Branch, Wild Dreams. The best of Italian Americana (Fordham University Press, 2008);,,, and in many other journals and anthologies, including several textbooks.

Last updated May 21, 2011