Ellis islanded, my grandmother survived,

processed like cheese

squeezed

into a melting pot of varied varieties

Parmigiana-Reggiano-swiss-turo-brie-limburger-

A fondue hardy bread spread of foreign folk

checked and stamped at entry to the Promised Land.

Was she happy?

Oh yes,

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.

She survived

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.

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