portion of the artwork for Meredith Davies Hadaway's poem

Via Marechiaro
Meredith Davies Hadaway

              Like a salmon leaping current, I return
to the place where I was born—it is all uphill.

              Here there are rocks, stone steps, narrow
passageways carved by the Greeks who

              named this area Posillipo, meaning pause
from pain
, a place to heal—

              To heal, a word that in its origin
meant to make whole, for me it means fill in

              some blanks. By now I have grown used
to roads so old they wear the grooves of centuries.

I was born in an ancient place.

              A shifting hillside, I am told, that will
rejoin the sea. Perhaps it’s already gone, I think

              as we turn another corner and find rock, more
rock, more heat, another rivulet of sweat inching

              the slope of my shoulder.

              Again we ask directions in a language we
neither speak nor understand but find

              comfort in. The couple who stands at a small
bar, the red-haired proprietor who asks,

              Andare a piede o prendere macchina?
because the route will differ.

              And then an older gentleman puts down
his Il Giornale to inform us that the road has

              changed, no longer named for a Fascist
poet, now called Via Marechiaro for the clear water

              glistening at its end: Signora, says the gray-haired
man, you were born in a beautiful place.

And so we turn around and now it’s all
              downhill on a road that switches back

and forth across a steep hillside to keep
              from tumbling into the sea.

Before I see the tiled number, I know
              I’ve found the place—so much smaller

than I pictured it and older. Wooden boards
              etched by salt air and strong sunlight block

the windows. A balcony slopes precariously
              from one side.

I stand beside the stucco wall for a photo as
              shadows start to claim the spot. Beside me

a small knot of graffiti says I am not the first
              to stop here. Together we impress ourselves

into the palimpsest, whole for the duration of what
              we call a split second:

My father swirling ice in his Negroni,
              my mother reaching up to clasp her coral

necklace, the man who sixty years later pushes
              a button to capture me in the place where

I was born—while the sun slides stone
              by stone back to the sea.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 50 | Fall/Winter 2017