In the piazza called Plado-Mosca
Turiddu spits out through broken yellow teeth
all the demons burning in the inferno
of his throat: rehearsed lines of forgiveness
choke like the stage-frightened.
He will not speak.
At an umbrellaed table Ziu Franzu
sleeps beneath a grey cap. Sausage fingers
thickly folded atop a high woolen belly
tap out dream rhythms and from quivering
lips he exhales the drone of
half snore, half breath.
The barber Vannuzzu sits at another table
drinking his two-o'clock espresso - viscous,
black mud half a thumb high tossed like quick
brandy strokes a dark comic moustache
like Chaplin's above his upper lip.
He's done this for years.
Father Giambetta plays cards with Umberto
who owns the piazza cafe. His eyes
never blink. His arthritic hands flutter
like birds. It's hard to tell what the old
priest is thinking: God or
the size of the pot?
In the piazza Plado-Mosca engineer Orlando
sits whispering to Donna Carmella his wife
who died from the flu. Has it been already
a year? He talks of hot weather,
how nothing has changed, then waits,
pretends she replies.
Some gypsy vendor honks his horn, and from
his green produce truck screams "Potatoes."
Women in black come swarming like flies
to buy what he sells, but in a world of his own
Turiddu's still spitting out demons,
swallowing down words he's too proud to say.
Winner of Second Prize in Poetry, first annual contest of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers.