Monday, November 14, 2011

Oshmina, Ellis Island Remembers You

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Remembers my grandpa.
Remembers his brothers.
Remembers my mother's cousin
who went from town to town
asking for a Jew so he could sell his wares.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you
Remembers their names.
Remembers their countries of origin.
Remembers a mass grave at the edge of town
Remembers my great aunt.
Who remains there.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Remembers a teenaged girl who hid from hungry soldiers.
Remembers her guilt of leaving behind her starving father.
Remembers her mother who died much too young,
After bearing eight children. Perhaps more.
Who worked herself to death in the factory.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Those who remained, their names buried but not forgotten.
Those who left traded in old names for new names.
Names and ages a jumble on passenger lists.
A confusion of huddled masses.
Breathing free with new identities.
Breathing free with new lives.
Breathing free with new homes.
Never entirely forgetting old countries.
Never forgetting mother tongues.

Oshmina. Ellis Island remembers you.
Fragments of lullabies sung by their mothers.
Sung to their daughters. Sung to their granddaughters.
"The road is long," Yes, the road is long.
The journey has become a patchwork quilt.
Stories half told. Half forgotten.
Details altered. Sifted through fine sands of time
unearthing bright gems of wistful remembrance.

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