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Sabrina L'Heureux

Second Prize 2007 Novice Christian Poetry Contest $300

About this Christian Poet:
I am a Christian poet and fiction writer and have been writing poems all my life. I studied creative writing at the University of Victoria and currently teach French Immersion in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where I live with my husband. It's amazing to see how God has given me the opportunity to do the two things I'm passionate about; teaching and writing. I hope to continue doing both in some form or other—we'll see where His plan leads me.

I have always felt that my nonna and nonno (my Italian grandparents) had so many stories to inspire me. They had experienced some incredible things that are hard for me to even imagine--including being prisoners of war and surviving World War II in Europe and North Africa. This poem came to life through the idea that these stories and family traditions are gifts they leave me.

What I'm left with
         for nonna and nonno

            Rare eyes: passed down
like hand-painted china, each grandchild’s
a shade of moss, olive, deep green.
Recipes for meals I couldn’t pronounce; biscotti, polenta,
plump balls of gnocci. The tradition of ten dollar allowance
and bags of loonies on birthdays, saved
from trips to the Woodwards cafeteria.
            The black and white photo of their wedding day:
pale skin, lips tinged with pink someone added on
with careful hands. The front garden roses, cut
into a crystal vase, petals the colour of nonno’s wine,
the scent strong as nonna’s bath powder, the quilt on her bed
dusted with a fine sheen of white from our tiny hand prints.
            The way my hands move, like nonna’s: floured, firm,
a sculptor of bread hunched in rolls under a blanket,
like her own rounded shoulders, disappearing
into the folds of her silk floral blouse.
            A bowl of languages: English folded into French
with Italian endings stirred in. English learned
from Soap Operas and romance novels
traded in at the second-hand book store for more.
            And stories, like a box of moth-eaten sweaters
that I will wear every so often when I am cold
and think of nonna with a baby in Africa, her first home,
or nonno, miles away at war, waist in the trenches,
or the two of them years later,
singing fait dodo while I close my eyes.

Copyright ©2007 by Sabrina L'Heureux