I was always confused 
about Italy, and the war 
the care packages still sent there 
twenty-five years later; 
whether Rosa was your daughter 
whether I had another sister. 
The man you may have killed 
was different from those you did. 
You planted a fig 
showed your kids how 
you tied a bottle to the tree 
where a flower had been. 
I watched for months 
as the fruit grew from green to purple 
and swelled, filling out 
the small bottle like a ship; 
the stem stood erect 
through the neck 
when it ripened. 
You topped up the bottle 
with brandy, sealed it 
put it away in a cupboard 
where I found it, years later 
near a small black and white 
cameo confirmation photo 
of Rosa in the cathedral 
in Florence. 


Mercedes Webb-Pullman came home to New Zealand in January 2008, after almost forty years away. She has since completed modules of Poetry and Short Fiction towards a Diploma of Creative Writing from Whitireia Polytechnic, and the IIML Poetry Workshop. She will attend the Iowa Workshop at the IIML in the summer of 2008/09. She works with stained glass, and reads at open mic sessions on the Kapiti Coast.