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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