by Chris Sanita
Our family loved to cook in the heat of the day in the san fernando valley; the yellow curtains and mignonette green tiles, the red wine, loud gauffas, sharp knives and sweat
sauce or stewed meats
steam would rise and beads of sweat always gathered
They smoke and drink scotch on holidays, laughing and cursing, bellicose phrases in Italian!
huge clouds of smoke crowded the living room, the red shag carpet sucked the smells in and breathed them back in their absence.
We could smell it long after everyone was gone.
Grandma Sanita would pat her leathered skin with pink rouge
mark her lips a cherry red
before she grabbed my sister, brother and i and headed down the alley St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church.
Inside, candles glittered and the elderly prayed fervently for the lost. We never went to mass together,
we just kneeled and watched grandma strike matches
her fingers like soft paper, quick and deliberate. How beautiful the scene is, purple, turquoise, reds and deep yellows the stained glass pulled my attention to heavenly things, to things of my imagination to a crucifixion the stations of the cross, the old ladies with dark dresses and white shawls
“Christopher, He loves you, say the rosary so you can be pure, so you can go to heaven.? He died for your sins. Soon you will go to first communion and confession.
His fingers worked his brow, as if he were trying to reenact Gethsemeny. The world weighed him down, the recession, the loss, her screaming, her anger for being duped into marrying this rascal of a man!
How mysterious the scene is and a little frightening, then when he looked over at me and trembled with fear, gripping my neck, asking me to forgive him, pleading with me to kneel and focus.
So earnest, deliberate and real, God would forgive him, everything would be made clean, the priest’s voice, low and mummering, coughs, sighs and then we repeat, “Thanks be to God!”