national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011

Giacomo Died When I Was One

Kaitie O'Hare  • 
American University

I.

I met you once on my windowsill

The summer I was six.

Laughing in a dream, you

Told me to be a good girl for my mother.

“My bella, behave.

Those tears make my sauce too salty,”

“She misses you,” I said,

Waking with wet cheeks.

 

II.

We keep you in our homemade raviolis.

Poorly kneaded, the dough splits open,

bleeding spoiled ricotta into the

aluminum pot your mother passed on to you—

An heirloom I will polish when my turn comes.

I imagine you inside my first batch

Nestled like a pearl.

You are wearing red, white, and green suspenders

From photos of my uncle’s wedding,

And you are happy there.

 

III.

My mother prefers her maiden name,

The one from you—Capriotti.

“It’s a name you taste anise with

In Christmas pizzelles,”

But you disagree.

“No, bella.

It’s a name you stir raviolis with.”