I’ve gotten by this long without it

stars in the trees1
By Steven Hendrix

Being of a post-assimilation
italian american generation
on my mother’s side
I had very little connection
to the culture
other than some foods
I grew up with as a child
lupini, cannoli, pasta

my father’s side
was anybody’s best guess
perhaps some german or austrian
perhaps some english or welsh
safer to just say “white”
they had been here longer
and it was harder to tell
where they originated from

so I decided to embrace
my italian american identity
learn about the culture
the struggles people
like my great grandfather
faced speaking almost
no english

I wrote a story
about my grandparents
thinly veiling the characters
with italian sounding
and submitted it
to Italian Americana
which had claimed
to publish John Fante
I would become
the next great
italian american writer

my manuscript was returned
with a handwritten
note across the top
“sorry, we only accept
stories and poems
by italian americans”

who needs ancestral
culture anyway?

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