Ellis islanded, my grandmother survived,
processed like cheese
into a melting pot of varied varieties
A fondue hardy bread spread of foreign folk
checked and stamped at entry to the Promised Land.
Was she happy?
if happiness is measured in sporadic peaks not vast spans of time,
She would smile and share momentous moments
ignoring the lengths of sorrows shadowing all souls.
Her seven surviving babes brought her heights of joy
Keeping the two she lost buried deep within her mother’s heart.
Widowed young, she refused to falter
in the wake of her husband’s passing the torch to her
to light her children’s way in the Promised Land.
struggling for pennies
and of the gold she was told lining the lanes and byways,
it came slowly scraped from washing board and steaming iron
in others’ clothes who earlier prospected to prosperity.
And in those stolen moments with swollen hands and aching limbs
She’d dance the Czardas with her children
Rejoicing in warmth of the coal they collected
along the tracks of the Promised Land.
And they survived.
Colleen Seiler Mula is a retired English teacher from Middlesex High School. She was a former member of Works In Progress Group of Highland Park, NJ, and is currently a member of the Bridgewater Writing Group of 8 female poets. Mula is a Jersey girl to the core and lives in Bridgewater with hubby, Joseph.