Fall 2006

Volume 1, Issue 2

A.J. Gravano


Grandfather in the Kitchen

He took the back of his hand

to wipe the sweat from his head

as he stood in front of the stove.


Water neared a full boil

when he grabbed the sea salt

and added a dash.


Steam blocked his sight,

as he seized the homemade linguini

and dropped it into the pot.


In the other pan he added three tablespoons

of olive oil – swished it around,

before he tossed in the garlic.


His large nostrils inhaled the aroma,

while stirring the pasta

and eyeing the sizzling cloves.


Clams drip dried in the colander

waiting for their quick death

in my favorite dish.


At the right moment he took the shellfish,

and with one hand pushed them in

and seasoned again.


A cup of white Marsala and basic ragu

went in together along with

another pinch of salt, a dash of pepper.


The lid sealed the smell

of fresh basil

in the marinara sauce.


With a fork he plunged for a taste—

still steaming he moved the linguini

to his asbestos mouth.


I looked for his subtle certainty,

his gesture of a half-smile—

al dente.


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© 2006 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture