• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 02
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The way in which we stick our necks out was the difference between them and us, as my grandfather used to say. We lived with an accent within an accent. Where would he have learned such accommodation for others in the highest hills of Sicily? How would one extend themselves? To whom would one run?

My grandfather imagined himself Mussolini on a horse so grand and so high, only a man of brutal stature could climb. His mother twisted her bridal apron in her hands and would send him off with the clusters of uva, plucked from the vine and warmed by the African sun. The basket sat on the back of a horse with little potential in the way of conveyance, but managed to get the job done. The uva were carried from those with great need to those with dance and drink on their minds. My great-grandmother would wait in early evening for the arrival of the old horse and my grandfather, by looking for the glow of his cigarette. Every night, without fail, the horse would drink for moments on end from a wooden bucket of water, while my grandfather would whisper, "Everything or nothing at all," over and over in his dialect.

Oh Dio, his mother would say to the phases of the moon, crossing herself, praying to keep the landowners at bay.