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Segesta
Stark 
symmetrical 
alone 
perfect against the brilliant sky 
whispering beauty to the wind 
the Temple stands 
noble 
majestic 
reflected by the sea 
 
Ah Segesta! 
long ago I called your spirits 
hiding behind Doric columns 
fearful they might hear 
and so awake them 
from ancestral sleep 

tomorrow 
I will climb the narrow path 
to the Temple on the mountain 
calling 
beckoning 
not as I did once in childlike fear 
bravely 
quietly 
I will wait for them to wake    

The Cry In The Temple
        The climb to the top was steep, the only access, a narrow winding 
path. Ruts and dislodged stones from torrential winter storms, and an 
occasional fallen tree branch made the ascent difficult. 
    The Mediterranean sun beat down without mercy on two small figures 
moving slowly up the mountain, their slender young bodies bent over to steady 
themselves against the strong wind. They made this climb many times before, 
but never in August, when the dreaded sirocco blew across the island, its 
fiery fingers reaching as far as Arles across the sea. 
    The sisters' fine leather sandals, not fit for climbing, gave little 
protection against the rough terrain. Whenever Gina cried out in pain, Ariana 
stopped to wipe away the tears and comfort her.   Nonna Maria, reluctant 
though she was about her grandchildren's frequent visits to Monte Erice, 
would give permission only if an older cousin went with them. This Sunday 
morning, amid the chaos, the tears, the cries of anguish, Gina and Ariana 
hurried away without consent. 
     Ariana extended a dusty hand to her younger sister, helping her up the 
last few steps to the plateau. The hot wind, slightly cooled by the sea 
below, was now bearable. In a few minutes they would reach the Temple that 
loomed in all its majesty before them. This is where Gina and Ariana, and 
cousin Lola spent many hours away from the prying eyes of adults.  When it 
was too warm to play, cousin Lola recited stories about Venus, who rose from 
the sea in her golden cockleshell chariot and her son Eryx, the giant. 
    Reaching the Temple, the two sisters sat in their favorite spot near the 
altar that Venus built, their usual high spirits subdued by exhaustion and 
anxiety. 
    Gina broke the quiet. 
            "Ariana... I'm thirsty." 
   Ariana got up and led the way to a shallow brook that would become a deep 
river as it flowed down into the valley.  In cupped hands they drank the 
clear cool water, then splashed some on their flushed moist faces. They sat 
down on the mossy bank, kicked off their dusty sandals, and stepped carefully 
into the water. The sight of frightened minnows scattering in all directions 
made them laugh, forgetting for the moment the fearful scene earlier. 
    The morning had started out happy and full of anticipation. They were 
going to Palermo, to a Festa, in celebration of Santa Rosalia. Nonno Pepe had 
prepared the painted cart with bells and ribbons, and harnessed Titina the 
mule, for the short journey to Palermo. There, they would meet other family 
members. The previous day, the sisters' uncle Vito, had gone hunting with his 
best friend. They planned to cut the hunt short on this Holy Sunday, and join 
in the celebration. 
    Gina and Ariana had finished a breakfast of bread and coffee. They were 
busy helping nonna Maria pack lunch, when they heard zia Flora's shrill cry.  
It was difficult at first to understand her. But as she came closer to the 
house, her cries became clear and terribly familiar. 
            "Compare Vito is dead! They have killed him!" 
    Gina was still too young to comprehend.  Ariana had heard those ominous 
words before.  Only a few months ago, Donna Caterina's son, Andrea, was found 
dead, a cork forced into his mouth. He lay on his back on the cobblestone 
piazza, blood oozing from the many lupari gunshots; eyes wide open, still 
filled with terror of his own death. 
            "I want to go home. I'm hungry," complained Gina. 
    Ariana answered with adult patience. 
            "In a little while we'll go back." 
            "Are we going to the Festa?" 
            "It's too late." 
            "Ariana, I'm afraid. Are you afraid?" 
    Ariana's answer was slow and careful. 
            "Yes... a little.." 
            "I don't like Zia Flora.  She made nonna Maria cry.  Why did she 
make 
nonna cry?" 
            "I think it's because.... zio Vito is never coming back." 
            "Never, ever? Why?" 
    Gina's dark eyes opened wide in disbelief. Ariana had to tell her now. 
            "Gina....listen....some bad men killed zio Vito ... like they did 
Andrea." 
    Gina choked back tears. 
            "That's not true!  He'll come back. Zio Vito always comes back. 
He promised to bring me green almonds." 
            "Gina ... Gina....zio Vito is dead. We will never see him again.  
He's up in 
heaven with Andrea." 
            "No....no!   Don't say that!  He's home...you'll see...and he 
will come to the Festa.  Please Ariana....let's hurry home." 
    Gina was hysterical now.  Lenora's frantic calling was barely audible 
over Gina's loud cries, as she appeared at the edge of the plateau.  Gina 
scrambled to her feet, and ran into her aunt's waiting arms. Ariana put on 
her sandals and picked up her sister's pair. 
            "Zia Lenora, is...is...zio Vito still in the piazza?" 
            "No Ariana. He's home now." 
            "Do we have to go home? Do we have to see him?" 
            "No cara....you and Gina can stay with me for a while." 
    Ariana trembled. For the first time that day she cried. Lenora embraced 
and kissed her.  With Gina holding tight to her aunt's apron, they started 
the long slow descent. 
          
 Copyright  1998 Angela Contino Donshes. All Rights Reserved 
 
        

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