Lu Novu Colossu

Translated into Sicilian by Marisa Frasca

When the transatlantic ship docked in New York Harbor, June 1961, my Sicilian parents had plenty of ideas about our future.  Our trunks held my father’s photographic equipment and my mother’s ceramic containers for preserving jam.  What awaited us?  My father died a year later.  My mother went to work in a sweatshop.  Those early years were harsh and full of pain, but my mother’s hands sustained us.  Her endurance reassured that we would find our way. “Women work for wages in America,” she’d say—in a voice that had a hint of bitter and a hint of sweet. 

Marisa Frasca, poet and translator, is the author of Via Incanto, and Wild Fennel. She serves on the Advisory Board of Arba Sicula, a non-profit that preserves and disseminates the Sicilian language, literature and folklore.  Born in Vittoria, Italy, Frasca lives with her husband, Peter, in Manhasset, New York.

Non comu lu sfacciatu giganti Grecu di fama,
Ca conquista cu vrazza spalancati da terra a terra;
Cca nna lu nostru mari-lavatu, purtuni di tramuntu sta in peri
Na granni fimmina cu na torcia, di cui lu focu
E’ fulmini imprigiunatu, e lu so nomi
Matri di Esuli.  La so manu di faru
Brilla binvinutu a tuttu u munnu; l’occhi duci cumannanu
Lu ponti-aereo ‘ncurniciatu da citta` gemelli.
“Teniti, l’antiche terre, lu to lussu storico!” idda chianci
Cu labbra silinziusi.  “Dammi li to stanchi, li to poveri,
La rammucchiata massa ca spinna a rispirari libbera,
Lu misiru rifiutu di la bruculanti praia.
Mannami, chiddi senza casa, chiddi sbattuti da timpesta,
Isu la lampa accantu a porta d’oru!”

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