She rode a ferry to the big city – shoulder to shoulder –
strangers crammed together like fish on a peddlers cart –
Italians with their own dialect, Sicilians with tongues
from their own village – alone within a strangers world
wondering if she took the right track –
Track number ten, she repeated to herself, “Number ten,
my Papa said, number ten.”
In front of the wagon – a gold building, it would be here train
number ten would sweep her away into her brother’s arms.
She would be the last one to step off the wagon in front of the
gold building – each building grew taller, nothing like this city
had she seen – through her eyes.
Hours before those same eyes stared from the boat she rode
fourteen days across the Atlantic – in steerage seeking the
New World as she stood on the deck waving to the lady in the
harbor holding the torch – children were snuggling closer to
Mama or Papa – afraid of so much excitement – hiding from a
On the ferry she sat alone and knew no one. She carried in her
hands from the ferry to the wagon, the same white stachel – once
again her eyes stared at a lady holding a torch; now, smaller.
On the wagon her body rocked back and forth as she listened to
four metal shoes on a horse meet cobblestone.
Already hours since a lady – holding a torch appeared as large as
buildings surrounding her – still shoulder to shoulder with strangers.
She told me, “I tried not to look into a strangers eye, or touch knees. My
knuckles white as I held tight to my white satchel.”
If she closed her eyes she would hear the same beggars, vendors – yelling
“Nuts, get your nuts here,” as if she never left her village in Sicily.
The wheels of the wagon wobbled on cobblestone and crossed tracks
where trains carried different wagons, she thought, and giggled out loud
holding her hand to her lips. Beneath the ground, tracks where trains
moved – people shoved one another. Down under she stared near
tracks – down a dark hole which felt like the end of the world.
She waited alone, beneath a city she viewed on postcards.
Shortly train number ten would arrive – her white satchel turned her
fingers pale as she clutched cloth and hid her fear.