He's smiling in the photo
soft creases at the corners
of his eyes

I like to think I
was given his smile.

This morning 
I wondered what
words i would use
to describe him.

How his voice, airy with age,
greeted me, 
through that smile
and the creases at the corners.

He'd say,

"we love you." 

I am grateful,
he tried
to offer my language
of love.

What words
will tell 
of the generosity
of a man
who grew up 
before he was 
allowed to be a child?

How will I share,
the ways he 
loved and worried
in equal parts?

He is not verbose
ever curious, he 
holds space for others
in conversation.

He lacks patience,
is quick to anger.

But mostly 

quick to loyalty
to his family.

He is both mountain
and sea

Strong and peaceful
Stubborn and learning

Even when my Nanna
forgets who he is
and shouts insults,
he attempts understanding.


He'll comfort,

"What is it?"

She shakes her head
and falls behind the wall
of her dimentia.

He looks at me,
creases at the corner 
of his eyes,

"She was such a strong woman.
She took care of all of us."

I think I'll say.

My grandfather 
was loyal,
and steadfast
in his love. 

butter and jam

At the counter 
a plate of eggs and sausage 
act as sides to the main

homemade jam
butter spread 
thick, without 

As a child 
she added extra;
lined each slice 
layered and thick

Butter was her 
of love 

Enjoy this 
without worry,
her actions said 

Your body is 
when its 

sit here 
let me 
feed you

I can hear her
in every bite 

I see her hands 
in each layer 

I smile 
when a lot 
still isn’t 
quite right 

It’s only ever enough 
for her and for me 
when our hearts
are full 


on your back porch
you do not see mountains
or ocean waves
the town of Falerna
or the promenade to the sea;

there's no distance
or depth
in this view.

I watch you
sitting -
looking out at
the garden you built
on the land that's your own.

Is it the sustenance,
the stability
you see?
Is it the
the existence -
are you seeing your reflection?

Answers were never
in your words.

I find them
in that small space
the tomato stalks
and sunflowers

He looks out
at the plot of land

the one that
offered the grandest of gifts.

I do not tell him in words;
that's not our shared language.

he gave us life
and in return
i lived.

In the next room

In one room
my grandmother begs for peace.
She cries for her mother,
screams in confusion and pain.
In the kitchen, he cooks dinner alone.
Smelts, fresh bread, salad, a beer.
I watch my grandfather as he moves
quiet and purposeful.
He fries the fish as he holds back tears.
He hears his wife cry out in pain.
His own is angry, frustrated.
He tells me,
“this was not supposed to happen.
This is not how I imagined the end.”
He sits at the kitchen table
the Steelers’ game plays in front of him
He does not notice me watching
as he drizzles hot sauce on his meal.
He turns, sensing me behind him,
tells me to grab a plate.
I do, knowing this is an important offering.
He fixes me dinner,
too many smelts than I can stomach,
salad, and bread.
I begin to eat silently next to him
This is his language of love.
He gets up suddenly
grabs a glass from the cupboard
pours half of his beer in the glass.
He hands it to me.
I drink. I take him in.
I say nothing. Because I know
he needs this. He needs me
to be silent with him, to eat
the food he has made
to accept what love
he has left to give.
To do something

She calls me tesoro

I help care for my Nanna. 
My father and uncle hold her
as my mother and I clean her.
She sits and cries,
“You should not see this, Marisa.”
“I’m happy to be here Nanna. I need to be.”
“I want to kiss you.”
I lean in, place
my forehead against her lips.
We sit like this for a moment.
The quiet is treasure,
just as she’s called me her’s
all my life.
And just like that,
the moment flees.
The chaos begins again.
Love in its many forms.
Suffering, too.