Ellis Island: Arrivals and Departures

October 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This is the first sign they would have seen as the ship slowly, so slowly, made for Ellis Island. After weeks at sea their eyes, fretful with hope, looked upon the beacon at last.

 

And now they dock. The ferry brings them to a large, imposing edifice ... forbidding ... but the open sky and the cry of gulls is a great comfort.

Inside began the checks ... interminable, inscrutable paperwork ... doctors who, like inquisitors, methodically looked for signs of difference, otherness, strangeness ...

... but here was a melting-pot, a confusing polyglot ... a convergence of fear, suspicion and desperation.

Pools of light alternate with areas of darkness ... for some the joy of togetherness, for others the pain of everlasting separation ...

... as some look on to the welcoming city of the new world ...

... and yet others face the agony of enforced quarantine with windows all facing the destination of the day before ...

... and others make ready, after perhaps a hasty and tearful farewell to begin the journey back to their abandoned homeland...

... rejected for reasons they barely understand never, in this life, to return.


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