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In 1898...

               In 1898 
                     My grandmother:

                       Maria Giovanna Colangelo

          chases the fat brown hens through dusty blue grass and scrub

          on the hillsides of Avigliano, 

          peels fresh figs and splits open their pulpy redness with
          her freckled hands,

          carries water up steep hills, past tall cypresses, 

          through iron gates to the piazza where Mussolini exercised
          on Saturday mornings

          prays to the Madonna as she polishes the altar rail, 

          strokes her father’s hand and whispers in dialect,

          offers purple berries to her husband and

          sings lullabies to her children behind the shutters 

          until the day she sailed on the Duca D’Aosta to Ellis  

          registered the mole on her left cheek and

          scratched her mark on the paper.


              My grandmother:  Alien Number1051939.

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