Frank C. Modica

My Grandmother’s Tongue

Before I was Frank
I was Francesco,
an accident
waiting to be born.

And before
I was an accident
I was Calogero’s dream
of a better life in America.

And before
I was an accident
I was an accent lost
on the tip of my Grandmother
Maria’s tongue.


Across the street
from my condo
plain plywood planks
shuttered second story
windows of a century-old apartment
like an abandoned rust belt bungalow.
For a few days in April
a dumpster filled with the leftovers
of lives I never saw
even though I imagined dramas
played out behind curtains
of a stage only yards
from my own bedroom.
So many questions
about neighbors I passed
on the sidewalk numerous times
but I never knew their names.

Frank C. Modica is a cancer survivor and retired teacher who taught children with special needs for over 34 years. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Square, Sheila-Na-Gig, Five Minutes, and 50-Word Stories. Frank’s first chapbook, “What We Harvest,” nominated for an Eric Hoffer book award, was published in the fall of 2021 by Kelsay Books. His second chapbook, “Old Friends,” was published this past December by Cyberwit Press.