I can recall her bent back in the garden,
staking tomato plants and raking soil;
in winter, when the bitter earth would harden,
shovelling the ice and snow, her toil
remembered only by blue jays; and, come
the summer, sitting in her yard with clothes
clean on the drooping lines, how she would hum
and sing in Calabrese and cut a rose.
Those candy handouts during Halloween,
the corn wreath hung upon her spotless door
were both a cryptic question and an answer.
Was she once lovely on the silent screen,
and the best dancer on the parquet floor?
All we’ve been told is that she died of cancer.