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Saturday, August 22, 2015


by Louisa Calio

Maria Luisa Catrambone and her parents Christopher and Regina, founders of Migrant Offshore aId Station (MOAS). The BBC interview with Maria Luisa Catrambone is available here.

The same year I took my first cruise
and looked out at the dark blue fathomless sea
recalling all those seafarers’ stories
Ulysses, the dangers he passed, before reaching home
as well as my ancestral journeys by ship from Italy to America

Was the same year my eyes burned with tears
watching scores of migrants flee the Port of Libya
across the dark blue Mediterranean
in over-crowed inflatable dinghies
barely able to move or breathe
some drowning during the passage

Hoping to escape war, death and misery
men, women and children
risked everything for the hope of something better
Taken by traffickers, reminiscent of slave traders
profiteers of human misery

While nations debated
willing to spend millions on vessels to stop them
and not a dollar to take them in.
Just when my heart was a dark ocean of grief
about to consume me
I turned on the BBC and heard the voice of Maria Luisa Catrambone.

Daughter of an American father and Italian mother
who left college to relocate to Malta
to rescue migrants with her family
Offering food, water and medicine
to the lonely, lost and suffering
through tender open hands

Filled my heart again
Compassion turned to action.
Having known the greater purpose
beyond comfort and security
The trust that fills you with a knowing
that any resource you may need will appear
as if offered by the hand of God

The people with no Statute of Liberty or Ellis Island
to welcome them in
Have a Ship, the Phoenix,
offering safe harbor to the tired, the hungry, the poor
reminding us once more, “No man is an Island”
There is room at the Inn!

Louisa Calio is an internationally published, award winning author, whose work has been translated into Italian, Sicilian and Korean. Winner of first prize for her poem “Bhari” City of Messina, finalist for Poet Laureate of Nassau County, Director of the Poet’s Piazza at Hofstra University’s Italian Experience for 12 years, her latest book, Journey to the Heart Waters was published by Legas Press in 2014.