My mother was born on Leap Year Day in 1912
At least that is what she was told
In the orphanage
But nobody ever found my mother’s birth certificate
Because she was born in a stairwell in a tenement on the
Lower East Side or the Bronx
Or Canarsie and raised in a hotel room
For the next few years
Ignored as the bastard baby of a crazy mother
Until she wound up in one institution
And crazy mom in another.
Years later my mother and father planned a trip to Italy
But my mother could not get a passport without a birth certificate.
In the event that you do not have one,
You can substitute affidavits and school records and notarized forms
Which my father acquired after many hours of research and
Several hundred dollars in bribes
He was glad to pay.
They had a joyful time in Italy
On a tour with other couples, bussed from Rome to Florence.