I Called Him Nonno.


Peering up at my Italian grandpa

Through the wide, blue eyes of a child,

Shiny pepper and salt hair seem to fly every which way,

While intense, dark piercing eyes watch my every move

As if  observing a reflection of himself.


Obediently, I call him nonno,

As my mother instructs me in a churlish tone.

But who ‘s nonno?

Everyone treats him with such kingly reverence,

Like he’s part sage, part priest, and part prophet.


Yet the giant bottle of wine resting beside him on the kitchen table

Tells me he isn’t a pious man.

More earthy than a man of the cloth,

With brooding eyebrows, olive complexion,  a gravely voice

And thick stubble framing his weathered  face;


He and nonna were twelve when they met.

Though I wasn’t born then,

It was in the old country,

Some place I’ve never been.


Then someone spoke her name,

And the pain of his unfailing love knocks him 

Down onto his old wooden kitchen chair,

His saggy cheeks trembling with heavy sadness.

Clutching the large bottle of wine with shaky hands,

He pours himself a tall glass and drinks long and hard,

Trying to wash away the painful loss of his beautiful angel.


Some time later, while visiting his home town in Italy, 

Relief came to nonno.

My mother told me he left this world,

And went to be with his wife.

Numb, with a long face,

 I stood still, watching tears roll down her face.


Too afraid to ask where he had gone,

In my mind’s eye I saw him rising into an azure blue sky,

Floating through puffy clouds to meet his youthful bride,

The love of his life.


After a while, I asked where nonno had gone.

With tearful green eyes, deep pools of sorrow,

My mother said, …  far away, … far, far away.

Gaping, I mumbled haltingly, will I see him again?


A warm smile snaked across my mother’s heart-shaped face

And she delibertly nodded,

Someday, … you’ll see nonno in the sky.

When mama?

In the blink of an eye, … in the by and by.     


Wrinkling-up my face,

I pulled on her arm with both hands,

How could that be?

She ran her hand softly over my hair with a sigh,

With God,  … all things are possible.




All Rights Reserved, Bill Bitetti July 1, 2014.