Anna Papadopoulos

The Immigrants’ Children Grow Up

We grew in the basements
of Greek Orthodox churches —
St. Demetrios, St. Nicholas, St. Nectarios . . .
The smell of Frankincense
and rotting eggs.

On Greek Independence Day,
we pledged allegiance to Poseidon and Ares
and boys dressed as Tsolias —
four-hundred pleats to represent
Ottomon occupation.

On Orthodox Good Friday,
we led a funeral procession:
followed Jesus’ tomb
through the streets of Queens,
through the aromas of sewage,
petroleum and burnt pizza.

Later, we dyed our eggs blood red,
and cracked their tops and bottoms
until, one perfect egg remained:
a symbol of rebirth and luck.

Summers, we were shipped on TWAs
to Greece, and ate figs and bathed
in the Aegean
with our Yiayias and Papous.
Our parents needed
to send us somewhere
where they belonged. Where
we wanted to belong.

Then, we changed our names,
dyed our hair blond,
moved to the tree-lined suburbs,
into the white house on the cul-de-sac.

Now, on Orthodox Easter,
we crack red eggs with other
youth soccer families
in a Cracker Barrel
along Interstate 95;
pass the eggs around
like forgotten candy.

We don’t think
about the basements of our youth.
Our parents waking
at 4am to serve coffee at diners,
or alter someone’s gown in a dark room
in the company of mice and mothballs.

And, we don’t think
about our old neighbors,
who warned their kids about us:
Don’t they know –
they’re in America now?

Those same neighbors
we now crack eggs with.
The ones we’ve become.

Anna Papadopoulos has been a cashier, columnist, wedding photographer, chandelier, marketing professor, and corporate executive. She adores New York City’s gritty beaches and littered streets, where treasures exist everywhere. She and her husband share their home in Staten Island, NY with their twin sons, daughter, a poodle, a Siberian cat, and her mother’s neglected Lenox collection. Her poetry has been featured in The Monterey Poetry Review, Newtown Literary, the Dillydoun Review, The Closed Eye Open, Second Chance Lit, Conestoga Zen, and the Poetry and Covid Project, an initiative funded by the UK Arts and Humanities.