As I toiled in the warmth of my slumber
My grandmother came to me
with a face plumped by youth,
mouse-catching grin on her face
Her eyes spoke, a soft whisper,
a caress that stole my breath

Her plain housecoat had been shed
for a smart peplum suit I
never saw her wear but one
she may have sewn by the dim,
cramped light; shoulders touching hers
to the left and right; hunched for
hours; foot pressed to pedal

Rickety, rickety,
ricket, ricket, ricket

The rhythm of designing
chic, American housewives

Rickety, rickety,
ricket, ricket, ricket

The rhythm of Sicilian
girls stabbing their fingers

This life no kinder than their
native country that heaved them
to a crowded dirty shore
like garbage that’s been washed up
after a sea-churning storm

Against my hug she kept silent
She smiled, all forgotten;
the wedding at 16,
the man twice her age
her innocence devoured
by a waxed, pointy mustache

The sepia photo screamed
her private, forbidden thoughts
A tight corset robbed her air
Her tear-stained face and wide eyes
made my stomach clench with rage
She only knew of cruelty,
first her country’s;
then her family’s

And when he died, no tears shed
Alone in America
two babies with open mouths
her hands of gold earned only
copper for those long, dark days
And she prayed for forgiveness
His death a penance to bear

So when a man twice her age
asked for hand and heart for home
Her job to cook and clean and
raise his children with her own—
later, theirs; the two they shared—
She knew that love might come if
she let it brush against her
long enough to kill the sting
from what life had been when she
was a pawn in others’ games

In Italian I tell her
the words never could I say
My life a pale carnation
against her thorny, dark rose
The pains she endured, ones I’ll
never know and couldn’t bear
Her silent smile, a rare
gift she’s opened for herself
and shared with me as I slept

About the Author
Dinamarie Isola is actively engaged in exploring the craft of storytelling. She has attended the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and has participated in writing programs, such as Story Genius, Author Accelerator and DIY MFA. Through poetry, she strives to tear down the isolation that comes from silently bearing internal struggles. She received her BA in English/Writing and Communications from Fairfield University. In addition to her work as an investment advisor, Dinamarie has a blog, “RealSmartica,” to help others better understand personal finance. She also has a podcast called “On Her Mind,” which is dedicated to interviewing accomplished women. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.