My family had stories. I had memories.
Woven together, they became the tale
of an immigrant's struggle for dignity
in the experience of raising a family
I knew my grandfather's,
my Nonno's footsteps,
echoing in the stairwell at Sackman Street,
three flights to his apartment door.
The parcel under his arm,
My grandmother waiting to receive them
with the bread, the fish.
His skill, his passport,
his contract, his insurance,
his vessel, his ship to America.
Hard, dark soles. Soles hard enough
to float. In the village where he was born,
in Canicatti--in a landscape of gashes,
of sulphur, chalk, and gypsum
and treeless brown dunes, Salvatore
had worked making shoes. In his father's
small shop: good shoes, right shoes.