Emma Lazarus Project

The Emma Lazarus Project explores the story of Emma Lazarus, a fifth-generation American Jew caught in an important turning point in American and Jewish History. The initiative—including an exhibit, curriculum and poetry contest—uses primary sources straight from the archive to encourage students to piece together Emma’s fascinating story, and to join the ongoing conversation about American identity.

Give Me Your Tired

by Carol Tiebout




We knew the words but we did not
know what they meant. We wrote them
down, tore them off sheets, let them flutter
out the windows of our speeding cars.
In the heat, smoke and faulty
isolation, each piece of the
world breaking off like a tooth
long infected, you were framed
perfectly in the rearview mirror.

We had many, many opinions. This
did not change as summer wore
on, sweltered behind our masks.
We were held, suspended, plaster
falling off the wire frames of us while
some of us could not breathe.

Someday, when you open this, you
should also know how the rain and sun
came in perfect measure, grew lilies
so large they could swallow us
whole, how we laughed like crazy.

Carol Tiebout lives and writes in Edmonds, Washington. For the past seventeen years she has also worked in hospice and with people experiencing mid- to late stage dementia.