Friday, January 13, 2017

"Of Grace & Tears" - Ellis Island Hospital

Ellis Island Hospital Ward
Ellis Island Hospital Hallway

"Of Grace & Tears" - Ellis Island Hospital

There are lives we'll never know about,
letters penned of hopes, dreams, successes, failures -
never realized

but I almost feel the brush of shoulders,
hear their whispers as I tread
yesteryears worn stairwells and dim-lit halls,
peer through cracked, broken windows,
almost see them as harbor winds snow-kiss
old planked floors,
my footprints ghost-like impressions
reminiscent of decades,
not moments, passed.

Chairs angle toward windows
seemingly vie for sight
of Lady Liberty, as if hope's still sought
by eyes wistful, eyes dim.

The mortuary's more mysterious
than morbid, eight tray doors swing open,
empty now - almost invite a peek within
to ponder "who"...
autopsy table's missing,
yet overhead light's intact
as if waiting
for doctor to walk in, lecture to begin.

Long hallways beckon
with shafts of shadow and light,
doors ajar to private rooms
for contagious and crazy;
isolation and a view
not so prestigious.
Better a shared ward with 16 beds.

Quarantined with time and silence
is crumbling plaster, scattered bricks;
illness and ailments no longer contained
within these walls of those who journeyed on,
for those turned away.

Curve of banister's still beautiful,
generous windows still filter light,
but now rain, snow, and summer ivy reside,
slowly reclaim the past, the humanity
and tragedies, grace and tears,
love and fear.

by Margaret Bednar, January 13, 2017

I invite you to listen to me read my poem:

Ellis Island - a blog link (See Saw by Liza Cowan) totally worth reading - gorgeous photography and words...

And here is a video I HIGHLY recommend! ... "Forgotten Ellis Island" Narrated by Elliot Gould

Nine out of every 10 patients were cured at Ellis Hospital and continued their immigration journey.

Ellis Island Autopsy Theatre
Ellis Island Hospital
The mortuary's eight trays... awaiting burial 


Martin Kloess said...

Well written and well captured. I enjoyed reading and listening to your soundcloud.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Your poem captures all those feelings that choke the heart every time one walks the rooms of Ellis Island. I've been there so many times in my almost 40 years... And every time I visit, I cry. Some things should never be forgotten. The threat of repetition is just too dangerous.

razzamadazzle said...

This is great. I started my teaching career in a residential treatment facility that was in the old state mental health hospital. It was definitely an interesting place.

kaykuala said...

Looking at the pics and more so reading and listening further, there seems to be a lot of emotions rekindled of the surroundings. The emotional attachment is very closely related perhaps to the 90% successful rehab of the inmates. Thanks for sharing Marge!


blueoran said...

Rich with echoes and presences of a history that is our part of being American. Such a crowd of ancestors passed through. The empty spaces resonate.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

'quarantined with time and silence' strikingly effective reflections

brudberg said...

A very important reminder all the pains of emigration. When I grew up I read the emigrants books by Wilhelm Moberg... Highly recommended though Ellis Island was only a stop on the way from Sweden to Minnesota.

Kerry O'Connor said...

A chilling view of the past.But also pertinent in a time where mass migration is on the increase.

Rommy said...

I remember visiting Ellis Island earlier this year. You've given voice some of the ghosts I felt follow me as I looked from room to room.

Jim said...

Margaret, you expressed very well the feelings I had for those ill who might be denied entrance if they could not recover. I can imagine that those coming to our Sothern borders have similar, yet necessarily clandestine, feelings.
I wish more people would understand the need and development of the sanctuary city. Our major cities in Texas all are, forced by the denial of the federal government to pay for anything else. In a way very much like the "don't ask, don't tell" older military standard.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

I am so overwhelmed by emotion after reading this.. even though I have never been there your poem made me feel oh so vividly! Beautifully penned.

Kim Russell said...

Oh Margaret, I loved your wonderful poem and photographs! When we visited New York many years ago we wanted to take the boat to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty but there was heavy rain and fog so the boat didn't go.