Salami Is Your Talisman
for my parents
The word arises during an Italian lunch
of yeasted bread and mortadella we share
across the metal screen of your bedroom window
mask removed, you indoors, me outdoors.
Thank God you’re on the first floor
not hovering on a second or 13th.
You want salami next time.
It penetrates your ritual afternoon nap
and you are temporarily healed
by this dish, with its salt
now streaming down face as tears,
calling out to your long-dead friend Carlo
provider of fermented meats and cheeses
and conversations that cure loneliness.
And perhaps he is here again with you
as you try to rise from bed to greet him
strong in that moment, leg and shoulder
unfettered by fracture and fear,
warmed by this cold cut made for times
of meager portions.
You put face and hands against the window,
and I become a palm reader.