repaving the street near my house
talk Italian as they work,
a southern dialect.
descendants of an ancient people
who made roads and aqueducts
for the Romans, and paths
that others would follow.
“I was a stone mason back home,”
the boss tells me, and I know
that like my mother’s father,
he built houses for a living.
He gives orders in Italian
and a young man answers in English.
They're fathers and sons,
in-laws and paesani.
In the space they've opened between the curbs
they measure carefully
from the middle to the edge,
from the edge to the middle,
matching new bricks with the old,
blending the colors to look good.