Jennifer Martelli
Finalist

No Matter How

Sometimes, when my joints pop, a woman appears and wants to talk to me.
No matter how carefully l move, these women want to use their tongues.
We all know that the dead can’t speak, but some can shake rice in a tin sieve.
A poet told me the first tambourine was formed in Italian groves
where women danced while cleaning rice and later, where women conjured ghosts.
I was ashamed to say I swapped my father’s name for my husband’s name:
the vowels so round at the end, they slipped into my smooth white sockets.
No matter how far back I searched, the names were father’s names—thick as guns.
If I owned a gun, it would be pearl, and cold, so shiny, it looked wet.
Its sound would sound more like air sucked out of small pink lungs, or finger snaps.
No matter how far back I travelled—Hanover Street, Avellino—
I ended up with a silver axe, a hammer, a boy, a blacksmith:
My father was an Italian man. So are my husband and my son.
No matter how I move now, women pop out of me and they sound like guns.

 

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