Spring 2007





Cattivo Ragazzino



Mid-afternoon rays fell through the bay

window’s lace curtain veil to rest warmly

on the insides of my soft little thighs

as I sat cross-legged on the hardwood floor

of the spacious dining room where mama

held her appointments, took measurements

and did fittings for well-to-do women,

each determined to be the first

in her circle to sport the next in look.



An expert designer and dressmaker, my mama –

Italian-born, emigrated to Vancouver at age 32,

poorly-versed in English though possessed

of an exquisite fashion sense –

and I, her five-year-old interpreter,

responsible for relaying

questions and answers

about textures and patterns,

hem-lengths and fabrics,

waistlines, cosmetics,

accessories, shoes,

so adorable to the ladies who

marveled at my intuitive grasp

of both languages at so young an age,

entirely unself-conscious about standing

before me in nothing but nylon tights

and brassieres, dainty silk camisoles

and lace-trimmed chemises.

I could not help but stare

in sheer wonderment.



And sometimes, when mama left to answer

the telephone or prepare an espresso

for a customer as she dressed,

I approached shyly and with my harmless

little boy hand reached out to caress

a sheeny stocking and return the ticklish

smile she beamed through the full-length mirror.


Jay Black

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