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Among the first Diaspora, he escaped
the great earthquake of 1905 by two years,
sailing for New York on the Calabria,
never to see his homeland again.
From the dingy bustle of Hester Street
with its vendors and horse carts
and dreams of the New World
he found his way to the cabbage farms
of Western New York where he fell in love
with the handsome Vincenza,
fresh from Palermo.
Sixty years and four children later—
two with families of their own
and two in the ground—
Giuseppe, a simple shoe-maker,
who never learned English, stood
banging his head against the wall,
cursing God in his native tongue,
as Vincenza’s body lay in the dining room
dressed in lace and wood.
Every time my mother tells this story
about her grandfather, I can’t help but wonder
if this is what it all comes down to.
Do we end up just banging our heads,
begging for one more moment,
just one more moment, before we close our eyes
From A Blister of Stars by Jason Irwin. Copyright 2016. Published by Low Ghost Press.