Spaghetti (Christmas Tradition at Chipparrelli’s)

In the dim light of Chipparelli’s restaurant
tucked in a busy corner of Little Italy,
we sit at a small table,
red tablecloth with white cloth napkins,
and a warm glowing candle,
reflecting in silver forks, knives, spoons,
another year of family tradition.

I realize that my parents are just
a man and a woman. Two people
with past lives and younger faces.
They retell a story
and I can see vividly their first date:
my dad with two plates of spaghetti
he worked so hard to make
for my mom waiting patiently
in their private Italian restaurant
and that sudden slight nervous trip
to send both dinners straight
to the shag carpet with a splat.

We pass the fresh baked bread.
My dad dives into his usual lasagna,
and my mom begins her usual manicotti,
and I turn in my spaghetti for
some exotic dish I’ve never heard of.

I twirl my pasta.
Before me, my parents, two souls I love.
Before them, a little girl in pigtails
drinking Chianti.

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