Gail Tirone

Gail Tirone

Gail Tirone was born and raised in New York City. Her family is originally from Sicily, and she appreciates the Mediterranean region and culture on many levels. Gail has lived around the world, from Charlotte Amalie to Taipei, and speaks fluent Mandarin and mediocre Italian. She now lives in Texas, and was a featured poet in several Houston Poetry Fests. Gail is a Best of the Net nominee. She writes about the immigrant family experience and the intersection of time, memory and myth.

Gail has a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. in English from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared in Blue Heron Review, Sulphur River Review, Free China Review, Avocet, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Weight of Addition Anthology (Mutabilis Press) and elsewhere.

Bei Giorni (Beautiful Days)

Mediterranean reverie
where vibrant blues
render whites whiter

Where over-full terracotta pots
fail to contain
                                                                of blooms
opulent colors
                                violet, fuchsia, magenta
                                                 ruby, hot pink
                                                                and hotter red

Sicily bedecks itself in flowers
like a teenage girl
who hasn’t yet learned
when enough is enough

The old hotel
clings to the side of a hill
a white-stuccoed princess aging gracefully
on a balcony
six hundred feet above the sea
tall cypress trees flute the perimeter
like loyal servants preventing the whole property
from falling into the sea

With a good book and a café latte
on a terracotta-tiled terrace in the morning light
amid sun-rich hibiscus bursting forth in scarlet
fronds of frangipani blooming fragrant as lemons
you sit
overlooking the Mediterranean – in all its improbable azure blue
at your feet

Later you savor
the company of a lover
and an aperol spritz
in a bower of bougainvillea’d shade
as long Sicilian afternoons melt into evening

Blooming branches dangle – sensuous, full
sheer white curtains lilt in the sea breeze
tempting you to move
from your place of repose
in the graceful wrought iron chairs
at the round blue-tiled table
perched high above the glinting sea

A young couple makes love
on their honeymoon
in a small room
where they are grateful
to have two windows
one opening onto the sea
the other with a postcard-perfect
view of Mount Etna
the new wife
admires her husband’s silhouette
in the Sicilian moonlight
as Etna rises behind them

An older couple returns to the hotel
decades later
now they can afford a suite
with a sitting room
where they read
and the no-longer-new wife
writes poems

And at night
as the bougainvillea branches dangle – sensuous and full
frangipani blooms fragrant as lemons
and the sheer white curtains lilt in the sea breeze
by the Mediterranean – in all its improbable azure blue
the older couple still makes love
in the Sicilian moonlight
in the shadow of Mount Etna.

Once Upon A Time In Taormina

Once upon a time
Sipping almond wine
translucent brown and bittersweet
at an outdoor cafe
in Taormina
a cafe built on the steps of a small ancient street
the Mediterranean sun warming
without weighing on us

Fresh fish shiny with white wine
checkered with herbs
small salad leaves slicked with oil
a crisp green filigree of earthy flavors
served by a white-aproned waiter
with a well-meaning smile and the human kindness
sometimes achieved with middle age
the waiter who brought us almond wine
at our small table under the southern sky
reverberating with warmth and hope
where we basked in sun and the future
using bread to soak up all the goodness
left on our plates

Around us locals walked the old stone streets
running errands on what for them
was a mundane day in their mundane town
their indifferent footsteps echoing at the perimeters
of our world at that table
but never penetrating, puncturing
the bubble of private pleasure
that was ours alone
that day in Taormina

At our small table in the sun
we sat oblivious to the passage of
time falling like petals around us
oblivious to the departures of other patrons
the steady emptying of the cafe as the noon hour passed
leaving us alone
lulled by the sun and the wine into utter harmony
for gentle hours of pristine communion
we sat and basked in the bloom of each other
toasting life, love and the future
with almond wine
that elusive aromatic liquid
the Italians consider the elixir of love

Etna rising above us, thrusting potent and strong
the Mediterranean iridescent below
enveloping, tidal, font of life
a cache of fire-blue diamonds
glistening sun-licked saline crystals
offering themselves like a pagan sacrifice
a backdrop in the temple of our happiness

I looked across at the man whom I loved
at that small table at the outdoor cafe
in Taormina
where all forces conspired to create
the perfect day
the sun, the waiter and the wine
and you, my love
so chiseled and fine
and radiant in love

This is the thing that money can’t buy
that guidebooks don’t mention
the once upon a time
when for a few brief hours
the music of the spheres was audible for two
harnessed with silken threads of Mediterranean sun
a moment captured in a gilded cage, singing
heard through the warm blue filter of memory
hours that I save
in the velvet-lined jewelry box of memory
a precious jade plant of memory
that I nurture so it will never die
a smooth stone in my mind
that I rub like a lamp
waiting for the genie of memory
to allow me to conjure up again those hours
of you and sun and almond wine
at the outdoor cafe
in Taormina.

For other contributions by Gail Tirone, please follow the link below:

Poetry in this post: © Gail Tirone
Published with the permission of Gail Tirone