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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Family, Immigrant (Reading for Poets n' Pints)


I am from Iceland
            A different Iceland than
From my grandmother’s
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

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

I read this Poem from my Collection, at the June gathering of Poets n’ Pints, June 15th, 2016