Jeremy Bruno, 2003
Francis Vento leans far over the side of the rumbling
glub-glub of the M-4
to grasp a hand wrinkled and worn by the tides of work.
Coarse fabric clothed them both, though she chose black
For mourning; he was not given a choice. Olive green wool
O.D.’s, matching rucksack, matching tank,
trench knife, and matching thermos. His olive skin cools
in the breeze of this strange country, but
does not match the knife, thermos or tank,
does not match the Mikes, Hermans or Hanks,
but matched that of two women standing in smiles
before their W.O.P. boy savior.
Rosa Maria is the one he holds, feeling the rosary beads
slip from her sleeve to meet at their thumbs
and Frank thinks of his mother’s hands. Pressed skin, hard
worked, able hands, capable
of curtailing their power and caressing her son’s downcast
countenance to ask softly, lovingly,
“What happened?” Does a son tell a mother about hell?
How 88 mm shells can turn a man
from a lamb of God to violent confetti of blood and bone?
How Johnny Dellalo crumpled
on the rain soaked beach and cried for his Mama? How blood
is still caked in layers
on the tread of the Sherman? Or how that man, that Kraut, asked for
his scapular back as his arm lay
twisted and separate at his feet? No, no. A son would tell
his mother none of that.
Only of Rosa Maria and how her name was Vento too. How he
reels and remembers
Deeply old lids surrounding the intense azure of bright eyes.
they have seen all life,
all death; Sicily is mutable, just as Rosa stands firm in black
wrapped in the Love of Christ
and Immaculate Mary, her country gives way to the bully
like the living to lava,
but the boys come – Frank returns – not to conquer,
but to rid and restore.
The moment is patient, allowing time for the G.I.’s to stare
but the Sherman it grumbles,
and gears groan. Francis Vento greets and smiles sweetly
leaning far over Sgt. Wray.