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The Dust Won’t Answer
by Federica Santini

The dust won’t answer and tell us
the reason it blankets time with its quiet.
The crystal cable remains on the table
of years reversed and gone.

Ask the dust where everyone went
though remember, it does not
speak our language but waits, still
waits. Like dust, I won’t answer
the call of those who were
deaf to our plight.

You who mocked our accents:
I no longer answer to you. I am
still waiting and blanket
your false gods with my silence.

PAINTING: Heat and Dust by John Miller.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem starts from the title of John Fante’s novel, Ask the Dust, to reflect on the Italian American experience. It incorporates a reference to the “crystal cable” as an homage to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his own reflection on time in “The Plough of Time.” Finally, the third key is unveiled in the last stanza, in which the “false gods” bring us back to Bartolomeo Vanzetti’s last speech to the court.

Santini copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Federica Santini lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and teaches at Kennesaw State University. She holds an MA from the University of Siena, Italy, and a PhD from UCLA, where she studied poetry and literary translation. A literary critic, poet, and translator, her work has been widely published in North America and Europe. Her 2021 poetry chapbook, Unearthed, is forthcoming with Kelsay Books.