For centuries living in the valley
alongside the eastward-flowing river,
his language restricted in the border
town to mornings, then the imperial
one required. Additionally the
Protestants were subordinate to Rome’s
faithful; friction-resulted, doors slammed shut.
No wonder that so many booked passage,
like his family, and crossed the ocean.

First finding their own, language a lifeline
in new surroundings, lodging and housing
secured. A man asked the two brothers if
they knew English, then to the wire works
led. Supporting his family on two
dollars a day, making nails alone on
a two-man machine, balancing heritage
with the new place, the years flowing fast
like the river beside the factory,
life settling into familiar patterns.

Some visions of the future graced his eyes.
His eldest’s rise in that mill, millions of
tons of steel pouring out in the open hearths
until they went cold, grass grew on the sites.
A glimmer of his grandsons’ destinies
as they meandered like that river toward
their own future, never forgetting those
whose toil enabled everything.