Poems by Lois Rosen



I’m not saying N.Y. pizza isn’t tasty,
nor denying that on the Bronx’s
Arthur Ave., I didn’t breathe in real
sauce, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella.

But in Rome, maybe it’s the purer wheat,
the rosso red of local tomatoes, water
the guide in Trastevere urges us to drink
from faucets rising from cobblestones.

Maybe it’s recipes passed generations
in a bakery like Forno. Maybe flavors
diluted when emigrants crossed the Atlantic.
Maybe too much salt was lost in their tears.

Foot-wide slabs of garnished dough
lie side by side on a trattoria counter.
Sorry a semester’s Italian’s clots in my
brain, I point to the one I want

with spicy sauce, cheeses, and roasted garlic,
gesture how much. The counter man lifts my
section into the oven. Simmering sauce romances
bubbling cheese. Burnt crust enlivens the tang.

Bite after bite, I forget black-haired, dark-
eyed Adonises on Vespas vrooming past.
It’s first-bite love, a Roman holiday
of taste buds crooning, That’s Amore,
Amore, Amore.



Working past midnight,
Javier gets up at five a.m.
to bake empanadas
for our class. He considers
a teacher an opal
shining in the darkness

Pilar floats into the classroom,
her hair loose to the middle
of her back. She writes
I am colibri, the hummingbird,
radiant feathers, vibrating wings.

Evelina tells our class
she admires poets,
looking at
each little stone,
each star.