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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Immigrant

Immigrant


I am from Iceland

     A different Iceland than

Minnesota

      From my grandmother’s

Iceland

     Where her father was born

An island with no trees

     He left for a fertile farm


I am from Norway and Sweden

      Where my father’s, father’s mother

And my mother’s, mother’s father

      Were born

                 Borne on an immigrant tide

Forgoing the fjords

     For a city of lakes, and streams


Sparkling…bright

     Minneapolis

Is where I am from
 
     I love to fly over her

Glittering in the sun


I am from Ireland

      From where my mother’s, father’s, father came

The poet in me must have travelled with him

      From Erin to St. Louis, across the prairie

He was married to an orphaned girl

     By mail,

And wed us to this place


I am from a city of green parks

      And water; sometimes blue

Others gray, water you can walk on

      Drive a truck on, several months of the year

Longfellow wrote his epic here


Hiawatha, Nokomis…Minnehaha

     The light, and laughing waters, that I love

To sleep on your banks

     To bask on your shores


I am from public schools

     Public libraries

Forests preserved

     For the public good

Emerald forests

      Sapphire lakes

Silver streams and rivers

      Mississippi winding

Among houses and glass towers


I am from public assistance

     Welfare, food-stamps

Government cheese

     From social services for women

And Infants

     And children in need

From church-basement-potluck-suppers

     From “hand me down” everything

…shirts, socks and shoes,

      From where what had been “used” by others

Was “new” for me


Progressive…generous

     Minneapolis

Is where I am from

     Where it is cold in the winter

And warm in the sun


From my Collection: City of Water and Wild Places