le viole

by a stream
in aprigliano
in 1954

the smell of violets hidden in the green
pour’d back into my empty soul
and frame the times when I remember
to have been joyful and free of blame

This third entry is about two remembrances that are forever intertwined. Two memories – my father leaving for southern France, and me sitting by a trickling stream surrounded by violets – are fused together. In reality the two events were probably not related, but memory and synapses don’t care about timestamps or separateness.

Two Stories



Left image (L to R): Antonio – Totonnu – my father’s first cousin and best friend, and my dad.
Right image (L to R): all men from Aprigliano who went to south-western France for work.
(far left, my dad. in the middle Totonnu.)

South-western France
– In the picture on the left – the doll in front of my dad, was a gift for my mother.  The doll came with us to Canada; but my mother put it on top of a lamp in their bedroom on Henrietta Street in Sault Ste Marie and it caught on fire and burned.
– The other souvenir that came with us to Canada was a small wall-statue of Our Lady of Lourdes; it glowed in the dark. (My dad and his friends went to Lourdes; it wasn’t far from where they were working.)

– In the picture on the right – the man in the middle is my cousin Totonnu; the man to his left immigrated to Canada and traveled with us from Naples to Halifax. I don’t know his name, and I have no idea where he ended up in Canada.


Left image – Our family house in Aprigliano. Our was the last house before the fields. The alleyway led to town.
Middle image – Me on the steps going up to my dad’s vineyard. The path is also how I would get to the small stream.
Right image – the lower tier of the vineyard that is now abandoned.

Trickling Stream
– Beside our house in Aprigliano were a series of plots that families rented for vineyards and vegetable gardens. Among these plots, my dad worked a small, two-tier vineyard and I went with him whenever he worked the vines.
– Because our house was next to the fields, my friends and I spent hours exploring and playing in and around the gardens, the chestnut trees, the oak trees, the vineyards. If we wanted away from the adults, we followed the path. A small stream and its bog hid further down the dirt path shown in the middle image.

– I remember retreating to the stream the day my dad was leaving for France. A safe place with its violets, trickling waters, its wet moss – all soothed a sad seven-year-old. But, I stayed too long; by the time I got back, my dad had left.