I find her where I least expect her,
Santa Marguerita, with yellow roses
in her hair. She laughs, deep
in the arms of that American GI,
her hair rolled like Hepburn’s, her lipstick
red as tiled Verona roofs. Then I remember
the Saturday before she died, the way
we stopped at a greenhouse and she said,
I’ll take for my granddaughter all
the plants you have with yellow flowers,
ignoring my protests until the Pontiac
was heaped with roses and verbena,
with lemon gladiola perfume I could gather
in my hands. She said, Take them
all; you need to have a happy life.
“I Meet My Grandmother in Italy” by Katrina Vandenberg from Atlas. © Milkweed Editions, 2004.