My Silent Mother
At twelve with my tap shoes
securely tied with a black bow,
I planned to dance my way through life.
My Victorian-Sicilian mother with her flowered house-dress
securely wrapped around her corseted figure,
endured the tap-tap-tapping on the kitchen linoleum.
On hot summer afternoons with the shades drawn,
we’d sit in the kitchen that smelled of soap
and cleanliness, both in our own thoughts.
I wondered if I had broken her silence,
If I had asked her what her thoughts were
what she would have said to me.
But I never did
My mother and I never had any sit down hear- to- heart talks
that modern psychology recommends mothers have with their daughters.
No tête-à-tête for us.
My mother made statements; we didn’t have discussions.
I wish she had told me about black hearts
like the heart lodged in the man I was about to marry.
But quiet like a moth
that hovers over my window at night,
She never did
One night around 10:00 as I sat at the dining room table
working on a college research paper,
she walked in from the kitchen with a cup of coffee.
Placed it by my notebook.
Like a kiss
This sign of affection overwhelmed me.
I never remembered her hugging me or kissing me.
I had never felt her wet lips on my cheek,
like the wet kisses I give me grandchildren.
But when she placed that demitasse cup down
on the dining room table, to me it felt like a kiss.
And so, I got up the courage and asked:
“Ma, do you think I should marry Jim?”
Like the sound of broken glass as a precious vase
falls and shatters on a stone floor, she said:
“You have to live with him, not me.”
At that moment, I remember clearly
that she had broken her silence
and I was on my own.
Luisa LoCascio was born in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1937, to a Sicilian mother and father. who came to the States in 1913. When anyone asked if she was Italian, her father taught Luisa to answer, “No, I am Sicilian.” This Sicilian-ness has never left her. Now approaching her eightieth birthday, Luisa has taken the stories her father told her about Sicily to write a memoir about growing up Sicilian in America. In the process of researching her parent’s town of Cerami, a tiny hamlet perched high in the Nebrodi mountains of Sicily, she discovered a massacre that occurred as Garibaldi was ready to launch his march with his rag-tag army through Sicily in 1860. She writes about the social and political climate that led up to the Italian Revolution.