Bryan R. Monte
Borderlands

My people are from the borderlands:
Alsatian bricklayers in France, then Germany, then France
Prussian farmers in Germany, then Poland, then Germany

Tyrolean miners in Bavaria, then Austro-Hungary, and finally Italy.
Not to forget the Lago Maggiore Italian fisher/farmers
with their stories of horse ‘trading’ along the Swiss border.

They came from villages with names in two languages
or regions that switched rulers a few hours ride
up, down or across the map.

I grew up in Cleveland on Lake Erie’s southern shore
where I listened to the Top 40 from Windsor, Ontario
and thought everyone in America accepted Canadian coins

until I gave a Columbus, Ohio cashier
a moosehead quarter. She slapped it back
in my hand with a: ‘What the hell is this?’

My ancestors always lived and worked on the edge
of one place or another, waiting for a chance
to finally settle somewhere well in the middle.