Literary Yard

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‘Dinner at Wild Garlic Grill’ and ‘Necropoli dei Bambini’

By: Barbara Ann Atwood

Dinner at Wild Garlic Grill

I no longer look like my mother,
who died at thirty,
skin as smooth as polished stone.

Tonight at the bistro
I reach for bread
with my grandmother’s hand.

In the neon window
my grandmother’s eyes
stare back at me.

She used to cry
behind closed doors,
a muffled yearning,

while out in the world
she moved above grief
with the grace of wind.

She was gone
years before I, too,
lost a child,

before I knew
even what questions
to ask.

But what could she have said?
Breathe in, breathe out.
The rest will come.

When I spill shiraz
on the table cloth,
my grandmother laughs.


Necropoli dei Bambini

In the graveyard in Umbria
among infants buried
with raven talons and toad skulls,
archeologists unearthed
the skeleton of a ten-year-old child

lying on his side,
hands clasped in prayer,
a flat stone wedged in his mouth.

They speculate
the family was trying to
keep the evil underground,
trap the thing that killed the boy,
prevent the dead from rising.

But the stone
couldn’t have blocked
his spirit for long,
not that fire whirl of afterlife
spinning beneath the clay.

If his mother sat weeping
with a new baby at her breast,
if she stared across the atrium
to where he used to play,
he’d reach out to touch her face.
If his brothers raced across the field
in a bedlam of games,
if their screams reached a fever pitch
near enough for him to hear,
he’d shout to them that he’s on his way.

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