How many years did you hold back…memory
…accepting the strange, pretending…
New York was home.
Dimming memories of dissolving faces
…pain can erase the inner photo album, leave
…….faint sun prints, fading….
Would you know them
…if you ever saw them again…
I think of my mother’s mother, they told me she was tall
…though I am not, and clever with her hands…
…seamstress to aristocrats, so I am told. I do not sew.
Her eyes stare out at me from a fading photograph
…her high cheekbones, Asian eyes, and thick piled hair.
Those eyes seem to grow and grow
as I look at her photograph. Like pools…
…..reflecting the oceans she crossed…
There was no welcome in 1905 … but there was work.
There was no welcome, no government programs…
but there was work in the mills
and sweatshops…and work she did
in the New York garment district.
There were girls she knew who died in the
Great Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Does anyone remember their names?
Sometimes, she still sang the old songs, as if
they were there to hear..
Deborah Sirotkin Butler