Like a salmon leaping current, I return
to the place where I was bornit is all uphill.
Here there are rocks, stone steps, narrow
passageways carved by the Greeks who
named this area Posillipo, meaning pause
from pain, a place to heal
To heal, a word that in its origin
meant to make whole, for me it means fill in
some blanks. By now I have grown used
to roads so old they wear the grooves of centuries.
I was born in an ancient place.
A shifting hillside, I am told, that will
rejoin the sea. Perhaps its already gone, I think
as we turn another corner and find rock, more
rock, more heat, another rivulet of sweat inching
the slope of my shoulder.
Again we ask directions in a language we
neither speak nor understand but find
comfort in. The couple who stands at a small
bar, the red-haired proprietor who asks,
Andare a piede o prendere macchina?
because the route will differ.
And then an older gentleman puts down
his Il Giornale to inform us that the road has
changed, no longer named for a Fascist
poet, now called Via Marechiaro for the clear water
glistening at its end: Signora, says the gray-haired
man, you were born in a beautiful place.
And so we turn around and now its all
downhill on a road that switches back
and forth across a steep hillside to keep
from tumbling into the sea.
Before I see the tiled number, I know
Ive found the placeso much smaller
than I pictured it and older. Wooden boards
etched by salt air and strong sunlight block
the windows. A balcony slopes precariously
from one side.
I stand beside the stucco wall for a photo as
shadows start to claim the spot. Beside me
a small knot of graffiti says I am not the first
to stop here. Together we impress ourselves
into the palimpsest, whole for the duration of what
we call a split second:
My father swirling ice in his Negroni,
my mother reaching up to clasp her coral
necklace, the man who sixty years later pushes
a button to capture me in the place where
I was bornwhile the sun slides stone
by stone back to the sea.
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