christmas. cousins popping crackers, red plastic rings and jokes and hats
zia maria serves a panna cotta, lost in a strange fog of memory,
and whispers 'death by ze chocolate' which makes us all look at the yule log anxiously.
presents of beautiful things - a small collection of guidebooks to faraway cities
filled with pictures that ignite my traveling dreams.
zia maria asks how old i am.
"thirteen? i did not go to school when i was thirteen. i was in the refuge camp."
zia maria has met me before but she can't remember. she holds my little brother with a mama's touch.
i feel out of place, not in my blood family
but zia pats my hands with a smile like paper. 'you are a very nice girl.'
she can't remember what i said two minutes ago but
she tells me the names of all her seven siblings and the colours of their eyes.
zia maria came here when she was eighteen. what must it be like to feel so alone? i used to wish i was italian because the language sounded so beautiful. now i realise i just wanted that little piece that would link me to the rest of my family.
but zia pats my hands and i am linked to all my family.
christmas is a memory,