Ellis Island - Visitor's Poem
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Unlike you I arrived here on a comfortable tourist ferry
Filled with people who saw a spectacle and
not the freedom you hoped for.
If these waters could speak I wonder what they would say.
Do they remember the many ships that brought you here?
I wonder what drove you to this place immigrenti
Was it the southern hardships or the American opportunity?
Your language made you seem childish as you were
tested for literacy in a tongue you didnāt understand.
Your last name written poorly, mispronounced,
and more than often changed.
Yet still you remained faithful to this foreign place,
You remained faithful in the dream of America.
With empty pockets and few possessions
you entered the doors to Ellis Island
Nurses and Doctors welcomed you by
poking around with foreign tools.
You tried desperately to hide the fatigue
and sickness from your long journey.
You watched your paesani get turned away.
Tearfully you gazed at them, fighting to believe
in the future you imagined.
I find my last name here etched in stone,
ghosts of unknown ancestors before me
Strangely I feel connected, and this connection
only makes me a stranieri
It is here I am reminded of your sacrifice and your fear.
This is where I understand your hope for freedom
The waters will remain silent and tourists will come each day
But I will never forget what took place here.
And I will leave upon a tourist fairy,
Only to board a plane with a passport,
Reminded that you made this American dream my reality