Salami Is Your Talisman

09-08-20 // Poetry - California

Gabriella Miotto


Salami Is Your Talisman

                           for my parents


The word arises during an Italian lunch

of yeasted bread and mortadella we share

across the metal screen of your bedroom window

mask removed, you indoors, me outdoors.

Thank God you’re on the first floor

not hovering on a second or 13th.


You want salami next time.


It penetrates your ritual afternoon nap

and you are temporarily healed

by this dish, with its salt

now streaming down face as tears,

calling out to your long-dead friend Carlo

provider of fermented meats and cheeses

and conversations that cure loneliness.


And perhaps he is here again with you

as you try to rise from bed to greet him

strong in that moment, leg and shoulder

unfettered by fracture and fear,

warmed by this cold cut made for times

of meager portions.


You put face and hands against the window,

and I become a palm reader.


Gabriella Miotto

My name is Gabriella Miotto, and I am a family physician working in community medicine in California, who sees poetry as a language of the shamanic, and imagery as an underused tool in the exam room. Some of my previous poetry has been published in anthologies: “Plague 2020: COVID-19 Art and Poetry from Around the World”, an anthology compiled by Mahnaz Badihian (MahMag, 2020), “Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: A Poetry Anthology” (Lascaux Editions 2017), “Pop Art: An Anthology of Southern California Poetry” (Moon Tide Press, 2010). If you like this poem, please gift, with the ink from your pen, a personal letter to an elder in isolation.