Rome

He doesn’t remember that my mother is
his daughter, or that the woman wearing
the black sheath dress and bouffant hairdo
in the portrait hanging above his bed was
once his wife. He doesn’t remember
the address of the music shop where he sold
LPs and oboes for almost fifty years, or
that he started calling me “the girl”
when he finally forgot my name. He doesn’t
even call me that anymore, the letters
having been rubbed out by his mind’s
aggressive erasure. And yet, when mother
hands him his old fiddle, the one he hasn’t
picked up in over a decade, the one he was
playing in the church rehearsal room when
he first saw his wife walk in with her banjo,
he grips the bow with shaky hands,
brings the bout to his shoulder and plays
as beautifully as Nero watching Rome burn.

Carla Criscuolo is the author of Pedestrian Traffic (Finishing Line, 2015). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Main Street Rag, Boston Literary Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Stepping Stones Magazine, and Amarillo Bay. On Twitter, people call her @PoeticCarla.

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