where we used sewer covers for bases,
broom sticks for bats, and crushed wax cups
for baseballs – a place peopled with names
like Aiellinello, Petrelli and Pascucciello.
But now there are condominiums
where a cold-water walk-up once flanked
a textile factory just beyond an alleyway.
For ten summers, the street-corner fire hydrant
surged high fliers made with tires and two-by-fours.
I played along street curbs
filled from backed-up sewers until the cops
came with their monkey wrenches.
Where have the Italian feasts gone,
the marching, oom-pah band
on Sunday mornings
and Santa Maria Addolorata’s procession
of religious icons that I was lifted up
to kiss for one dollar?
And where is Andante’s grocery store
where we pitched pennies under an awning
until dusk to escape the widening June sun
already burning away thoughts of school,
while an old man yelled, "Bunch of potatoes,"
on a horse-driven wagon
filled with fruits and vegetables
near Rosa’s candy store
where we bought black licorice sticks,
Kayo, and Yo-Ho potato chips
for just fifteen cents?
"I weep like a child for the past."
“Elizabeth Street” was originally
published by Lake Shore Publishing.