Arizona: April 24, 2010


I was ten,
and he was 64,
and still mourning
for JFK,
his hero,
his champion,

we sat, as usual,
under his grapevine arbor,
as I pressed him
in my budding journalist way,
to tell me about
the journey across
the Great Ocean,
fifty-two years earlier;

his eyes narrowed,
and he leaned over me:
"why do you want to know,"
he said, softly;

"Well, Grampa, only because
I want to know about your life,
about how you came to America,
everything, Grampa,
everything," I said,

he looked into my eyes,
and said:
"a de cortar o coração,"
which he quickly translated:

"So many of us, crammed on to
that ship, fighting for space,
many seasick,
the smell overpowering,
as all eyes kept looking
for that shore,
for America";

"But you made it, Grampa,"
I intoned,
"you made it across."
And he looked at me,
eyes once again wide,
a broad smile crossing his face:

"Yes, my little rapaz,
yes, I did. And now,
America, this is my country.
This is where I have worked
my whole life, and made it
for my grandson, you,
to be free, to be
an American,
and the old country,
I have left behind. I am
an American now."

He told me that it was
hard, being Portuguese,
in those early days,
as he was only 12
when he arrived,
and went to work in
the Hathaway textile mill;

he struggled to learn English,
with the help of his two sisters,
already here, married,
and raising families;

but he worked hard,
and he endured,
and the only reason that
I am setting these lines down
for you to read now,
is because of his dedication,
his perseverance,
to be an American;

so when you ask me,
what I think about Arizona,
today, on the 24th of April, 2010,
what do you think I will say?

April 24, 2010, for Grampa, and every other immigrant to America. Viva la raza!

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

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