Tuesday Poem

I Want to Write a Poem to Celebrate

my father’s arms, bulging and straining while he carries
the wooden box of dark purple grapes down the crumbling,
uneven cement steps into the cellar of the old house
on 19th street. The cellar, whitewashed by my mother,
grows darker as my father lumbers past the big coal
furnace and into the windowless wine room
at the very back where he will feed the grapes,
ripe and perfect and smelling of earth,
into the wine press. The grape smell changes
as they are crushed and drawn out into the fat
wooden barrels, and for weeks the cellar
will be full to the brim with the sweet smell
of grapes fermenting into wine, a smell I recognize
even forty years later each time I uncork a bottle,
an aroma that brings back my father
and his friends gathering under Zio Gianni’s
grape arbor to play briscole through long July
nights, small glasses before them, peach slices
gleaming like amber in the ruby wine.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
What Saves Us—
Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the age off Trump
editor: Martín Espada