WEDNESDAY: Pizza and Chianti

BY PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER

Copyright is held by the author.

1
Cruising past St Maria Goretti High School
at 9th and Moore,
9th Street,
where you can still buy fresh ravioli,
where Rocky Balboa characters
sport earrings and tattoos
over slick hair . . .

Down Moyamensing,
past Southwark,
where the kids of the projects
grew in the shadow
of monolithic high rises,
kids like Pinky and D-Head,
who escaped their concrete hell
each summer for two weeks
at Camp Linden,
met college kids
who staffed the bucolic
Chester County hideaway
on the Brandywine Creek,
where the pastoral
peace of the wood
was canoeing from Lenape Park
down miles of the creek
to land at Linden again.

A flash of memory,
of Moyamensing,
and Ronnie Ricci,
who lived,
a stone’s throw
from the throngs of ebony faces
in the towering prisons
of Southwark,
who grew up
on Italian streets,
loved nature,
and taught the kids
to love animals,
who adopted the baby hawk
I found one day,
alone and destined to die
were it not for Ron,
and protected him,
nurtured him,
named him.
Remembering the daily joy
witnessing the wondrous
survival of the delicate
little predator,
who eventually
took majestic wing,
but perched each morning
at the peak of our cabin’s shingled roof,
to call out to his beloved rescuers
a raucous hawk billed “good morning!” and
“rise and shine!”
each dawn until late August,
when he flew off
to merge with the wood,
to live the destiny
of the wild and free.

Now I wonder how far
from Moyamensing has Ron flown,
have we all flown,
from that one idyllic
and desperate summer,
when so many abandoned birds met
to heal and grow,
then take flight back
into the wilds
of our concrete woods?

2
Then it’s Passyunk Avenue to Mara’s,
the best in Philly for generations,
the vibe of the old neighbourhood,
real Italian food
in the same booths
where the poets,
lovers and friends
huddled together
to celebrate each
historic night’s reading,
or birth poets’ plots
to undermine normalcy,
to dig away at the banal,
words for shovels,
digging the very thing
they sought to subvert,
the timeless, changeless America
of Passyunk,
of Mara’s,
of pizza
and chianti,
where Mario Lanza never died
and Sinatra lives forever.

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