All Souls Day far from Sicily

we watched Sicilian children on RAI TV News

clutch little plastic bags of ossi di morti

as they hold their parents’ hands on the way to cemeteries

Today here in Philadelphia here in the USA

we buy our ossi di morti at the bakery

white hard cookies bones of the dead

made of almond paste, flour, sugar, lemon juice, and cloves

in the shape of femurs, ulnas, and skulls

we dunk them in espresso

we dunk them in wine

we dunk them in tea

remember our dear departed

Nonna told us to pray for and to our dead always

they  were looking out for us

Nonna told us if we prayed for and to our dead on November 1

the next morning they would bring ossi di morti

and maybe a little money, too

Nonna said when she was a child in Sicily

her dear dead never failed to bring her

a bone cookie and a coin on November 2

even when they hardly had enough to eat

We dunk our ossi di morti to soften the hardness of our lives

with the memories of our dead.

Maria Famà is the author of eight books of poetry.  Her work appears in numerous publications and has been anthologized. Famà has read her poetry in many cities across the United States, read one of her stories on National Public Radio, co-founded a video production company, and recorded her poetry for CD compilations of music and poetry. Maria Famà did her undergraduate and graduate work in History at Temple University.  She appears in the film documentaries “Prisoners Among Us,” “Pipes of Peace,” and “La Mia Strada: My Way” reading her poems. She was awarded the Aniello Lauri Award in Creative Writing in 2002 and 2005.   In 2006 she was awarded the Amy Tritsch Needle Award for Poetry. In 2018, Famà won second prize in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.  Her latest books of poems are:   The Good for the Good, published by Bordighera Press in 2019; Other Nations: an animal journal, published by Pearlsong Press in 2017,  and Mystics in the Family  published in 2013 by Bordighera Press.  Maria Famà lives and works in Philadelphia.

di Maria Famà