A Woman From Norway

Immigration is not what it used to be. There was a time you booked passage on a ship, crossed the Atlantic, spent a few hours in Ellis Island and were sent on your way. No visits to consulates, no background checks, no tests, no interviews, no waiting for years to be let in. Now it’s all hassle for anyone to gain legal immigrant status, to the extent it’s surprising anyone even tries. It’s no hassle, of course, for illegal immigrants from certain countries. They just walk across the border, get free health care, free schools for their kids, and sooner or later amnesty makes them citizens, while those who try the legal way wait in limbo while favored others cut in line. Thank goodness my grandmother came when she did.



A woman from Norway with tow-headed kids

Boarded ship for the US one day

And settled in steerage so young and afraid

Their passage was only one way

The northern Atlantic in winter was fierce

And in steerage the air grew most foul

As the ship heeled to seas that came crashing aboard

And the wind made the most fearsome howl

At Ellis they waited in rooms densely packed

Where clerks at long tables all day

Asked for places of birth and the spelling of names

And in short time were sent on their way

No consular visits, no bulletproof glass

No scanners, no waiting for years

She got on a ship with her husband and kids

After kissing her family with tears

They settled in Philly and raised fine strong sons

And beautiful daughters as well

And that’s how my grandmom came to the New World

And I have a story to tell



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