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Labriola’s

 
Entering, through the medium
of memoria, achieves the parable

of Proust: the aroma
of Italianata, opera of olfactory,

blood–gnosis spinning me back
over these scored plank floors

grouted with appassionata
to Sundays after Mass fifty years ago,

when Larimer Avenue was Paradiso
and my parents held the hands

of my sister and me as we processed
along Labriola’s aisles

of melanzano, romas, Fiorella
pears, pews of garlic, basilico.

Litany of olives:
green, black, cracked,

Siciliano, Milanese,
Calabrese. Salami,

sopprassata, mortadella,
wheels of formaggio from Palermo,

Abruzzi, Formicolo.
Lexicon of Mangiare.

Bread of each province.
Theology of pasta:

spool, labyrinth, conundrum,
geometry – vowels falling

like pastina from the rafters
where a scratchy Vivaldi sonata

wafts like DeNobili smoke.
Among the promenade of shades,

trembling a spectral tarantella,
market the ghosts of my mother

and father, shawl and fedora –
Domenico Giuseppe, Maria Rosalina –

heads bowed at the sacred occasion
of the larder, fingers scribbling

deliriously in the clouds
of plentitude.

Joseph Bathanti is North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, and “acts as an ambassador of N.C. literature, using the office as a platform from which to promote N.C. writers and the potentially transformative qualities of poetry and the written word.” This is the last of three food-themed poems he shared this April in honor of National Poetry Month. “Labriola’s” was first published in Italian Americana. You can view upcoming dates for Bathanti’s appearances read more of work on his blog.

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