Friday, August 23, 2019

Mediterranean Blue

Careful readers know that I love poetry. It's a medium that manages to convey volumes of emotion in short bursts of words.

Professor Rubén G. Rumbaut (Irvine) recently brought this gem to my attention. It's a piece written by Southwest poet Naomi Shihab Nye, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee.

Mediterranean Blue

If you are a child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can't swim.
My father couldn't swim either. He swam through
sorrow, through, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated--a story, a food, or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don't dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love
for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a long time.

And if we can reach out a hand, we better.

I start teaching asylum with Home by Warsan Shire. I like using that poem because it's from the perspective of the asylum seeker themselves. Her youtube reading of the poem brings tears to my eyes every time. The emotional impact of that work is undeniable.

Here, Mediterranean Blue offers something different. It captures the ongoing struggles of refugees, decades later, after resettlement. It's a poem that puts you a little off center. You'd think that finding refuge would be a miracle cure where all else that follows would be golden. This poem indicates something different. I think it might be a good end to an asylum course/segment. It says - look, we could do more than just offer a place to leave. We could be a hand to hold when the longing for the past is overwhelming.

-KitJ

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2019/08/mediterranean-blue.html

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