by Austin Segrest

When Mom died I moved her to Italy –
Trastevere, across the Tiber from Rome,
where I studied when I was 20 and she visited
for a week with time between jobs.

She eats panini, guessing at ingredients,
sits street-side to watch people and says,
“keep the cokes coming.” She wanders alleys
peering at menus, visits the baker,
picks up a bottle of Chianti so cheap
you wouldn’t believe it.
                      There’s a stone cottage
like a miniature castle off the path
in Janiculo Park. I found it chasing a soccer ball
and took it for a vacant guardhouse.
Before leaving Rome I tried to draw it,
but ended up drawing an oak.

That charcoal tree stood in her room
until we swiped her chest of drawers,
stuffing opaque garbage bags
with all her frail reminders, giving
most of it away.
                      She’s taken up
in this little castle with all her cats.
I can visit whenever I want, and we walk,
café to café, looking for that restaurant
I found last week, while shop grates roll
and old men fix scooters by lamplight, a radio
throating staccato soccer games. I’m trying
my meager Italian, she, her muddled French.
It’s terrible, the evening, how much I want this.

Originally from Alabama, AUSTIN SEGREST teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. His poems appear in The Yale ReviewThe Threepenny ReviewNew England ReviewPloughsharesEcotone, and others. This fall he will be a Provincetown fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center.