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Nick Matros

Bakery Girl

Padre Pio, il Papa (still John Paul), and St. Anthony greet me

As I take my number, with a line of only two before.

Some kind of donna salvifica smiles

From behind the counter, while counting out sfogliatell’.


I pretend to eye some leaf-shaped, and rainbow sweets

To mask an obvious stare, and I order

A pound of cookies and six cannoli

When I have only come for dinner rolls.


The way she thanks me and tells me to have a nice day,

Nothing coquettish or fake, just a suspended moment

Of direct eye-contact, and that smile, say that

She wishes I’d meet her father, and wonders if I’m Sicilian,


And can tell I’d be the real Italian man, deeply, eternally

In love with his wife, and never feared of cheating,

Dropping by the bakery after a day teaching Italian

To neighborhood kids at St. Someone’s high school,


For an afternoon cappuccino, 'though he knows it’s a breakfast thing;

After all, he is Italian-AMERICAN, and it is his family’s place.

He then heads home and reads to the kids in an Italian

She never had the chance to learn. And I want to tell her…


Yes, I am one fourth Sicilian, and I am that type of guy

Who’d start to go to church for you, and win over your papà

By showing that I too look in adoration at an angel, and prove

You’ll have the respect that that demands.


And maybe it’s the Madonna over the bread, but

I suddenly feel good, I feel saved by the bakery girl

Who smiles at me as someone she could marry,

Someone worthy of the goodness that she represents;


And when I say “Grazie” after she passes me

Cookies and dinner rolls,

She knows what I really mean.

She knows she was right about me.