IMMIGRANTS 

My grandmothers and grandfathers came  to Ellis Island before the door slammed shut -to all Italians and Eastern European Jews -due to the Immigration Act of 1926.

My grandmother, 12 years of age, survived the Triangle Shirt Waste Factory Fire because she jumped through smashed windows, landing on her sisters’ bodies who jumped before her.  Women and children from teeming shores.

I am the granddaughter of a woman who worked in sweat shops, sewed till her fingers bled so her children could dream the dream of America.  

I am the daughter of first generation Americans, Union organizers who taught there is no justice without compassion.

I am an Italian-American working class kid  from the Bronx. Where elders words-Italian staccato -mixed with opera, Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, and the score from Fiddler. 


I am thevdaughter

of a feminist 

mother 

who

never went to college 

Yet,

devoured 

books 

made 

music 

believed

in justice

gave 

me

strength 

To be 

A nasty woman 

When nasty women are needed.


They are me.  

Known and 

unknown 

ancestors 


Italian

Spanish

Lebanese

Syrian

Iranian 

Irish


I am

Your

Catholic

Sephardic 

Jew

Agnostic


We are

the brave,

courageous,

Seeker

indentured 

shackled  

Minions

crossed oceans,

left 

with memories

of home

from the other side


We are here

because

of them.  


We fight

on 

because

of them. 


We

are

because

of them.


Our

door 

open

always.


there 

are no 

strangers

here.

-February 4 2017

 

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