Grandfather was a longshoreman

and as he went along the shore he hummed,
Grandfather hummed, and not for feeling gay,
but as a signal that his work was well begun
that he had well accounted for another day.

The cranes along the waterfront, grotesques
with names he’d mastered in a foreign tongue,
were marvels that yet left him unimpressed;
were giants he walked fearlessly among.

The immigrant assurance in his breast
rode him to a new world, and made him brave.
He passed what he presumed was each new test
and strove until he landed in his grave.



Image: Loading Dock, Galveston Wharf, Imperial Sugar Company by Robert Yarnall Richie, from the Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection (Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library). This photograph has no known copyright restrictions.

7 thoughts on “Grandfather was a longshoreman

  1. Exquisite in both form and language. Subtle shading brings that man into high relief. Small gestures that mark motivation, reason, striving, becoming the essence of the American dream. Knowing, believing, made faith a fact. So deftly explored!


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