Saying goodbye to Maria

In love with the story of love
that crosses boundaries, my youngest

cousin on my father's side names his
first-born Maria, after the heroine

in West Side Story who sings a duet
with Tony while their fates are hot-

pressed into the seams of time. The song
is "Somewhere," & Maria is an immigrant

just like my cousin, just like me.
But his daughter's American-born, first

generation, like Natalie Wood who played
Maria in the film. Natalie's parents

were immigrants too, from Russia: the father
a chocolate factory worker, the mother

apparently more well-off, having come
from family who owned soap & candle

factories. America is where they all go,
where we've come, each with some vague

idea of how to make it in very big deal
America. But no one's particularly impressed

with immigrants these days; or they've
always been that way, except the current

climate is more enabling for white people
to say anything they want to anyone who

doesn't look like them, & get away with it.
When I raised my right hand & swore

allegiance with a roomful of other people
who looked mostly like me, it was another

version of that idea of a new way of living,
. I also filled out a form to drop

"Maria" from the two names I was given
at birth; I didn't want to be seen as just

another generic girl from a tropical
country lashed by storms & misfortune.

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