Sunday, March 23, 2008

"I am a Ghost"

I wrote this poem last fall after a co-worker's daughter lost her uncle and her best friend in Somalia within a span of only a few weeks. Her uncle had a heart attack; her best friend was murdered. 

I am a ghost.

I breathe. Blood goes through my veins.
I see. I hear. I speak — but still …
I am a ghost.

The land I walk now is not the land of my people —
my father’s father’s father’s home.
My clan and my family are scattered
to places I do not know.
So many of them are dead. More die every day.
Yet I am here —
a ghost.

Why do I still live?
Why me and not …
… Halimo, whose laughter made us all smile?
… Khadijo, who died in childbirth in a refugee camp?
… Abdulkadir, who was shot for defending his home?

I cook the food I loved back home, but the taste is not the same,
and I no longer recall just why.
I speak my language, but strange new words invade my speech
and come from my mouth unexpected.

I have met many people in this new place.
They help me. They hope I will feel “at home”.
This is a good place and they are kind people.
But it is not home.
I see the news each day.
I get the calls at night by cellphone.
Home keeps dying day by day.

Home is still the place I belonged, so long ago.
I want to belong somewhere.
I ache to belong again.

But I float like a fog, a plant with no roots —
A ghost
on the bridge
between old dreams and new hopes.

     -- Miss Tara
    Nov. 18, 2007