by Sue Ann Gleason

It’s been many years since memory left you
smiling with no real grasp of the conversation

taking place in your midst. Aunts, uncles, cousins
speaking to you of people and places that escape

your mind; leave you with permanent furrow
of brow                      searching.

Except the day I pick a sprig of basil
from the garden, place it beneath

your nose. Watch your eyes light up:
Ahhh, basilico …

How extraordinary the scent of memory. Grandpa’s
cherry tobacco wafting through the air, the way

he tamps the tobacco in the bowl of his pipe,
scent of leather pouch from which it sings; whilst

you simmer tomato sauce on the stove top teasing
the next-door neighbors whose only experience of pasta

is pillow-shaped pierogi. On the counter, always
something citrus: lemon pie, lemon cake, limoncello.

I imagine you pining for the lemon trees you left behind in Sicily,
your garden the closest reminder of the farm you worked as a child.

And now basilico,
your only tether.


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