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Spring 2008


- A. Bodhràn
For Valentino Lo Bianco “In Memoriam” July 2007
- L. Calio
Elbow Grease
- M. Carroll
Sacred Sod
- G. Fagiani
The Name He Did Not Want
- V. Fazio
La Visita (The Visit)
- M. Frasca
Finn McCool Crosses the Line
- J. Hart
After the Glanconer
- J. Knight
- M. Lisella
Dun Arann
- J. Machan
Karaoke Swan Song
- P. Many
Sestina Terrona
- N. Matros
The Roofs of Siena
- J. McCann
- S. Moorhead
- P. Nichloas
Marriage Ellis Island Style
- F. Polizzi
The Years of Our Lord
- K. Scambray
The Girl with Botticelli Hair
- G. Tabasso
On a Dismal Night, in Dim Light Pondering a Tattered Map of Ireland
- H. Youtt

Frank Polizzi

Marriage Ellis Island Style

At the turn of the last century
what was going through Rosalia’s mind
on the passage from her unmapped village,
somewhere in the barren mountains of Sicily,
trekking with everything she owned and
holding one special bundle, always under an arm
or her head, a makeshift pillow?
She dozed near the other women
at the bottom of the ship,
squeezed like blood oranges
in a room without windows,
so when the lightning flashed,
she could not see what threatened her.
And when the thunder cracked,
some women screamed but Rosalia was stunned,
crossing herself over and over,
till docking in New York harbor
and ferrying over to that island clearing house,
next stop she prayed East Harlem.

This scene was played out on steamships
from many foreign countries –
a young woman from Greece heading to Astoria
a young woman from Ireland to Hell’s Kitchen
a young woman from Lebanon to Atlantic Avenue
a young woman from Poland to Greenpoint
a young woman from Russia to the Lower East Side
These women all had the same expression as Rosalia’s.
All stranieri in a stranger place,
treated as aliens as if they had been shot from outer space.

From the masses the attendants separated Rosalia
and her fellow female travelers into a dormitory,
rows of cots and windows with a limited view,
but at least now they could see the storms gathering.
They were not sick waiting to be shipped back
to where they came from –
not one of them wore a black X.
They were the chosen ones who would soon meet
their future husbands in a mock jury room,
so they could claim their arranged women.
What thoughts sprang up in her head
when Rosalia first saw her husband to be,
older, much older than she imagined,
and despite his borrowed jacket,
poorer, much poorer than she’d wished for?
Would she run from the room and steam home
to walk barefoot on the rocks,
or just hope for buona fortuna with a touch of love?
Maybe just accept her lot here
or in desperation hang herself from a clothesline.

Rosalia stared at the man with a mustache
but did not speak when addressed.
He begged her to claim him
as he swore his fidelity,
while she clutched his sepia photo.
She was a bella donna and not ready
to be picked up like exotic baggage
straight out of steerage,
dressed now in the laces and rich hues of her regional dress,
all handmade, every stitch, every bead, every inlaid pleat.
She would not utter a word in any language,
nor even gesture with her delicate hand,
as all the other women in their dowry dresses
accepted their American mates,
but she remained speechless.
Only the desperation on her intended’s face,
reminding her of the last time
she gazed into a cracked mirror,
made Rosalia look at the frustrated magistrate
and she nodded like a wooden puppet.
She took her place in pairs with the rest.
All these married couples
would sail with the different currents
flowing around this city of islands,
the boats they made here for each other
rocking in a mondo nuovo
that would later make them alien
in their own countries,
somewhere far across the sea,
their parents dead and gone.