I was born in Rockaway, below Brooklyn, on a strip of land that looks like a fat finger stretching into the Atlantic. I remember no woman who cherished my cradle or teenage awe. And yet, it was special to grow up behind a hedge, with the ocean every day in my eyes, special to uncover the pride my father's Italian face couldn't hide the time I brought home my first accountant's paycheck. He wanted to play chess and, smoking but two cigarettes, let me beat him unequivocally, on a combination rook-and-queen. He ended by saying to always watch out for those treacherous towers and the black-and-white crosses their long moves plot. "Treacherous," he said, somberly: I remembered the word with a smile that Tuesday, September 11, as I raced to work through Manhattan. And I recall his warning now that I am dust scattered by an obscene blast dust lost among the dusts of others undone below a ravaged sidewalk, next to the leaf where never will my father find me not even to hold the hand I'd use to play him. I came from Rockaway where I knew no woman's love or warmth: may one now come and ask the white irises to bloom in my name, faded, erased. Rome, September 26, 2001
From Echoes of Memory: Selected Poems of Lucio Mariani. Translation © 2003 by Anthony Molino. Original Italian © 2001 by Lucio Mariani. Reproduced by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.