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Rachel Vinciguerra

The downside of choosing a Frank Sinatra song to play at a funeral–

Is that you might run into it now and again, over your bolognese,

At an Italian restaurant. And the waiter will pretend not to notice

When you wipe your eyes with a checkered napkin and take big

Regulating breaths between sips of Montepulciano.

The other side of choosing a Frank Sinatra song to play at your Nonno’s funeral–

Is that he might find you again, once in a while, at an Italian restaurant

He’s never been to, or on New Year’s Eve in a hotel room in Miami

Watching thousands of tiny people under confetti and snow in New York City.

And every, single, time, the clock will stop for four minutes and thirty-five seconds.



In a room of open-eyes,

Wide-cut hearts and young

Women, with covered, fresh memories

Of blue, purpled, tender slices

Into our skin, our men point to

Their own–from motorcycles, sports,

Farm animals–healed, smoothed,

Stamped neatly on their faces.


My grandmother was keeper of the family history–

She carried a tin box of photographs, daguerreotypes and worn

Christmas cards from her home–where she lived sandwiched

Between generations–to ours, where we spread them out

On the kitchen table and scrawled pencil notes on the back. She

Was an only child, the only one left to carrying the glittering

Burden. Four pounds or four lifetimes in her palm. I remember

My own palm as a child in her home, smooth and steady over the

Wood panels where there was a knot; a splotch that sometimes

Looked like a dog from the corner of your eye. And how I felt our

Upstairs room was visited by a spirit decades before I learned of

Leona. My grandmother was keeper of family secrets, that she stitched

Into the embroidery of hundreds of clothes. That she held in her mind alone

For decades after my grandfather left this plane. Of Uncle Abe who

Lived with his family in a cornfield. Eight kids and an organ their mother played.

She remembered scooping ashes from the fire in tiny dump trucks there. My

Grandmother was keeper of glimpses–of walking along the canal with her

Grandmother picking milkweed for a sauce, of sitting on the lawn in her

Sundress eating fresh raspberries from her father’s garden. At four-feet tall,

I thought she was bold and brave living alone with her thoughts. But the brave

Came instead, years later, in a Facebook message to me, trying to get in touch

With my mom. She was the only one left with all those memories. My mom,

Picked her up and made a nest for her in my childhood bedroom with all

The glittering, the tin box, the dump truck, sandwiched right there.


Rachel Vinciguerra (she/her) lives fifteen minutes from the nearest river in Pittsburgh with her husband, cat, and chickens. She is a poetry and prose writer and young adult cancer survivor. Her poetry can be found in Rising Phoenix Review, Emerge Literary Journal’s scissors and spackle publication, Eunoia Review, and others.


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