Immigrant Song

Yesterday I met someone interesting, a person who came to this country many years ago, fleeing, with her family, the Yugoslavia of Josip Tito. We chatted. I mostly listened. At one point, I asked if she had ever read My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Her eyes lit and our conversation took off with a connection spanning years and continents. My Ántonia is indeed a favorite for us both, and the workaday was suddenly charmed and warmed. My new acquaintance spoke of returning to Ellis Island a few years ago to visit and how the wash of memory brought back her arrival to this country in sudden freshness. Listening, I looked up and found that she was unable to speak for crying. I quickly said, “There’s no other place on earth like it, is there?” She smiled and said “No, there isn’t”. There just isn’t.

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