I won’t ask you about the Claddagh
on your wedding band or the hills
like humpback whales, greenbacked
in algae and how they seemed to be
swimming away as you boarded ship.
The fields full of nothing and the children
clawing at their stomachs like cats
kneading blankets before sleep.
The midwife who took infancy like Mary
and Joseph accepted gifts of wise men,
placed her palms on swollen belly
and drew a map to somewhere else.
I won’t ask about close quarters and
the outdoor toilet. Spiders inching over
ceilings in the dark, so you only knew
they were there by a faint tapping.
How did New York look before it
became a twinkling tinsel thing?
I toured a tenement house on Orchard Street
last June. It could’ve been you who squeezed
into it when you arrived, forced off a ship
like sheep into a pen and given a new name.
Bastardization after bastardization.
Voyages paint over everything else.
Grace Lytle is a poet from Houston, Texas. She has previously been published in Canvas Literary Journal, 45th Parallel Magazine, and Anti-Heroine Chic, among others.