Phyllis Carito

Phyllis Carito

Phyllis Carito, MFA. Teaches Creative Writing at SUNY Columbia-Greene Community College. Her publication highlights are two chapbooks, barely a whisper and The Stability of Trees in Winds of Grief, and a novel, Worn Masks. Other published work has appeared in Passager Journal, Inkwell Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Fired Up! (Berkshire Women’s Writers) Vermont Literary Review, and Returning Woman Review.


The Siren Call

Beyond the blue haze sits Vesuvius
Quiet amid the July summer heat
Where visitors to Sorrento all meet
And feel the gulf breeze rising up to us.
Since 1878 ramparts do face
Above the sea a lasting call to charm
Circled rearwards by a lemon farm,
The Siren holds the visitors’ embrace.
We think we have come temporarily
But we can never lose the song that sings
Rooted in our profound memories.
The wind carries her entice, we can’t flee:
Stay desiring of her soothing wings,
Lingering taste of sweet lemons; salt seas.

Sorrento, Italy

Haze holds the moist air, morning glories open, climbing cliff walls are
bougainvillea vines and mountain laurel.
The locale sweep the steps, pick the melanzana, pomodoro,
while visitors watch sun sparkles on the sea.

Heat penetrates the stone walks, drips down backs,
swells the feet of the tourist, slows the song of the child.
The cool cathedral walls call, the sea lulls bodies to dip
away the steam and sweat, away the tensions.

Heat dissipates, the shutters open,
streets fill again, the nets are brought in.
The celebration continues, catch of the day,
vino della casa as the sun dips, the sea darkens.

Piazza Tasso

I traveled to Sorrento.
There was no plane crash, no steam venting from Vesuvius.
The weather was as expected, sunny and hot.
Shutters opened in the evening over Marina Grande.
I walked through the lemon tree grove down
Via Correale to Piazza Tasso, honoring the hometown poet who served
the courts, but wrote his passions, rhyming verse of love and past rising
out of the mists, a noble son, Torquato.
I was on holiday.  A vacation, nothing more momentous
than a comfortable stay at Hotel Royal on the Gulf of Napoli.

What I hadn’t expected when I bathed in lemons
Was to lose the curse of my mother that had taken years away
from me as a daughter of that land, a sister of that family.

Poetry in this post: © Phyllis Carito
Published with the permission of Phyllis Carito