The Map of an Immigrant
Los Angeles, CA
Yula Girls High School
In this new land the fluid of her old name feels unfamiliar
as it rolls off her dried lips.
Comfort foods her mouth once savored now taste foreign.
A sparrow outside her bedroom window cries
a different song. How she longs to find herself again
in this pot before she melts.
One day, the flavor of water changes. She loses
her accent, her smile as they say her words are unnatural,
that you aren’t un americano until you speak
the language that rolls off their tongues
because nothing makes you more American
than the red blood of your ancestors turned to dust
the white standard mold society pushes you into
and the blue water of voices that leech their way into your drowning lungs.
Bones bury themselves once the memories leave
she uses her broken English
the way her great-grandchildren will someday use her broken Spanish.
no te avergüences taunts the ghosts of their ancestors
For everything we lost, you gave nothing.
but they marry those whose graves are different,
they bury no past.
A powerful piece, Themes of water, death, family, and loyalty are threaded throughout and connected to heritage in lines uneven and almost harsh, giving the impression of a speaker unfamiliar with language in a poem that is anything but.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Nachimson is a junior (class of 2021) at YULA Girls High School in Los Angeles, California. She is a junior editor at Siblini Journal. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Parallax and Blue Marble Review, as well as recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the Jewish Week.