The Miner's Family

Once she was a beauty.
But that was in Sicilia.
Now she is a miner's wife,
mother of a big famiglia.

Once she wrapped her maiden grace
in black lace,
now East-Side poverty
beams from her unadorned face.

The miner, her husband, is giant,
but armless, what use is he at all?
He lost them somewhere in that pit.
Now he sits, watching the wall.

He is drawn to the depths of the earth,
his missing arms swinging beside him,
down to his brothers, to the lamp that burned,
a private sun to guide him.

And now the miner lives
to stare, to smoke, to curse.
Two empty sleeves sing a song
of a wasting universe.

He can't stand the gray of the wall,
the children crying, the hunger pains,
or the curse of the bread his wife has earned.
He curses his own remains.

She spreads her misfortune through the streets,
gathers pieces of bread about town,
meanwhile in black, on the East Side,
Need struts up and down.

Copyright © 2005 by Yosl Grinshpan.