Just an Immigrant

Sara Gaudino, Features Editor

Step off the boat onto the American soil;

It feels the same as Italian ground.

But the air tastes different.

It’s not filled with forgotten dreams or desperation.

The taste of determination settles on my tongue

And flirts along the periphery of my mind.


Stamp my passport

Now I am an American man. 

An American man

Who still feels like an Italian boy.


An American man determined to create. Yes, that’s it.


Brooklyn’s squatty brick skyline engulfs me 

As we scrounger for living arrangements

A slow sticky breeze, laden with sea salt 

Makes my lungs feel weak 

and my head dizzy.


Streets filled with hard strangers, sneering down at me

As they stride briskly to nowhere in particular. 

Puff my scrawny chest and do the same.


These streets aren’t paved with gold


Hope? It is a foreign concept when crushed into one room with

A father, a mother, a neighbor, three wailing babies, a nonna, two sisters

I cannot breathe.

“We should go home.”

My father strikes my face

Skin smarting


This is home.


I can work harder than anyone you have ever met,

There is nothing I cannot learn,

Show me and I will give it everything I own inside.


Turn me down. 

Sicilian skin is too dark for you.


I will try again somewhere else.

Again. Again. Again.

You’re just an immigrant, they said.

But I know that I’m an American man.


Bag groceries,

Bank teller,

Collect subway tokens,

Shine shoes.

Is this worth it? 



O Divine Master, grant that I may

Not so much seek to be consoled as to console

To be understood, as to understand

To be loved, as to love


Priests dripping with gold

I am in rags.

I look into His eyes, arms spread grandly above the alter

He inspects my tense insides through those eyes. 

Eyes made of glass, but eyes that can consume oceans.

Please help me, God. 

He winked.

My daughters want a cremolata from the stand across the street.

I will take you.

Careful crossing the street.

Four twig legs run across 81st street,

Floral printed summer dresses rippling around their knees,

Silk chocolate hair fanned over the smalls of their backs.


That American sun preparing for slumber 

Just beyond the Verrazano Bridge,

Palate comprised of infinite shades of sultry warmth. 

Marie wants coconut, Janet, pistachio 


Six coins clang together in my pocket.

I nod to the young dark man behind the counter.


We sit on the dock 

That hugs the East River.


It’s strange.

You know?

To know that every decision I have ever made

Has brought me to this exact moment.

This moment.

The small girls giggle and dangle their tanned legs,

Scooping the sweet, sticky cream to their mouths 

Peach blossom cheeks dimpled with joy. I grin and my insides release.

I have created this moment.

Exhale deeply, close my eyes, and embrace the salty air

Laden with sea salt.



The definition of the American dream is just as concrete when my Grandfather came to America in the ’40s as it is for people today: To create a better life. However, in many cases today, people are not searching for the American Dream as much as they are escaping a death sentence in their home country either from war, famine, violence, or being the “wrong” gender.

I believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to help one another achieve their own American Dream, as I wish my grandparents had received more helping hands. This responsibility falls largely on the shoulders of our government, but also on every well-situated American with the ability to assist. We should all envision a future where the American Dream is a collective dream that every person on American soil helps everyone else achieve.