In the old bocete, the spoken or wept dirges
sung at funerals, women ask their fathers
to pass on news, send greetings to the others
who left last spring or twenty years back.
They beg their old man to take care of the baby—
asleep forty years ago, still two months old.
Some never miss a wake: so many
staggered stories to relay.
That’s why women scuttle to care for the elderly,
fight to send word to their departed.
Stalling by the bedside, they cajole
the ailing uncle to eat, they wash his feet,
trim his beard, throw salt
across the doorway and hide the mirror.
Lucia Cherciu is a Professor of English at SUNY Dutchess in Poughkeepsie, NY and her poetry appeared in Cortland Review, The Prose-Poetry Project, Memoir, Connotation Press, Connecticut Review, Paterson Literary Review, Spillway, and elsewhere. She is the author of two books of poetry: Lepădarea de Limbă (The Abandonment of Language), Editura Vinea 2009, and Altoiul Râsului (Grafted Laughter), Editura Brumar 2010.