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My mother was a fan

of Mario Lanza

On a snowbound day,

she took me to the local

cinema to see

The Great Caruso,

an MGM film

spectacularly grand,

the lion roaring

at its start, a movie

colourful and operatic,

the women glamorous.

A love story beat

at its heart, the tenor

a troubled, unhappy man

I couldn’t fathom. It was

no doubt a typical

Hollywood biopic

of the time. I felt

my mother’s warmth

in the dark. I couldn't

have been much more

than seven or eight,

so I was thrilled

to do something

so very grown-up,

watching with her Lanza

singing passionately

heartfelt arias, like

the one from Tosca,

his voice breaking

into stirring sobs

which I found alarming,

even overwhelming.

At the final scene,

he collapsed on stage,

and shocked silence

gripped everyone.

The cinema curtain,

as if on mournful cue,

shrouded the screen,

announcing THE END.

‘If only I could take you

to La Scala

in Milano, so plush,

so luxurious, yes

you’d like it, I think so,

but there are no opera

houses here,’

sighed my mother.

‘What’s an opera house?,’

I wondered,

having no inkling

that Montreal

was not home to her,

and never would be.

Mario Relich’s book of poems Frisky Ducks was published by Grace Note in 2014. His poems have appeared in Poetry journals, and in the ‘Poem of the Day’ section of The Herald.

He is also a retired academic who was a lecturer on Post-Colonial Literature and Film History at the Open University, both in Scotland and London, for many years.

At present, he writes regularly literary reviews, and an annual Edinburgh International Festival Diary for Scottish Affairs.

He is a member of the board of Scottish PEN


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