“Sandhog’s Granddaughter” by Sloane Flaherty Getz

Sloane Flaherty Getz (age 15)


She rises in the predawn darkness,
the way he rose to tend his farm on Inishmore those years ago.
Grey water, ships and fog. Fluorescence and creaking elevator.
The sky is pink now.
She is enveloped by a rush of warm air and noise and people;
Crowds onto the train compressed with travelers; stares out as
the doors shut and the station melts into
colors and light.
She speeds through the tunnels her grandfather built, he who dug
the sunless shafts that streaked past her
downturned eyes.
She is deep under the Hudson now, the deep water that bore him
from Ireland to the fast-approaching city.
The smell of rain and oil and city as she dashes up the yellow steps
two at a time,
rhythmically nodding her head to the music filling her ears, feet
tapping like the Morse messages he had
trained to send to distant places.
Her hand is on the patinated handle of the school doors,
the light bouncing off the river blinding her eyes, the river from
which he had stepped on wooden
gangplanks those years ago.
He planned to go back.
She didn’t.

from 2022 Rattle Young Poets Anthology

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