Alberto Tells Us About Walnuts


I was coming over
from Italy on a ship—we
was in steerage. If you
don’t know what that means
it’s when you’re in with all
the animals. I was five or
six and I roamed around,
nothing to do but cause
trouble. My mamma didn’t
care—I couldn’t get lost.
I climbed over barrels, played
with goats, fed a bearded one
a whatcha call it—a
bandanna—and he ate it just
like that. One time these men
had some fun—called me
over—come here ragazzino,
and they stuffed me full of
walnuts, poured them into
my pants and shirt and tied
the cuffs. Everything rattled
when I walked. Boy did
people have a laugh. Now
that’s enough with stories—
mangiare! Annetta didn’t
make this spaghetti for herself.

—Karen Loeb, Eau Claire