by Lisa Cantwell
that was the summer of dodge and shake, escaping two doors down to zia’s yellow brick bungalow, the bumblebees waggle dancing on the marigolds by the screen door, rusty hinges rattling while rush hour traffic hurtled past, the happy yapping of her three legged corgi named buttons, his welcome parade leading me into the kitchen, the crackling of the transistor radio on the windowsill tuned to a show covering local politics, and zia bent over the stove, cigarette dangling from her lips, she lit the tip with the flame heating up a saucepan of gritty coffee, her left hand with its missing ring finger motioning me to sit, she told me to listen and learn something this summer, poured a cup for each of us, floral saucers mismatched and chipped, passed me the cream, added a splash of sambuca to hers, ranted about city corruption for the better part of an hour, handed me the tribune to read the news to her while she made fresh pasta and sugo, the air thick with the scent of garlic and injustice, until the grandfather clock struck noon, time for her to head to the restaurant, she pinched my cheek, said in bocca al lupo, and sent me back, back across the neighbor’s yard in the august heat, across patches of sun bleached grass growing higher with each step of my dusty white chuck taylors, each step getting hot as an evergreen forest on fire, into my mother’s father’s house where i learned the quiet that summer, learned the ways his hands and his mouth made me
Lisa Cantwell is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco. Her poems have appeared in Ponder Review, december, Welter, The Pointed Circle, and Barrelhouse, among other publications. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and is a winner of the Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize. A freelance theatre director and educator, she lives in Santa Monica, California.