#100Days100Poems Day 47

Today’s submission, from Jessica Lantos, shows us just how deeply the effects of the Trumpet (mis)administration’s attitudes towards immigration permeate every level of society. They are never abstract, and it’s always about people.

 

 Long Division

The table in this always crowded school basement
needed a matchbook
to prop up the leg.
The folding chairs were cold and metal
and we heaped our coats and bags on a chair
while we sat in our regular seats
together at the corner
as if on a date
so we could hear each other
in the room that was filled with 
more tables that wobbled
and people
speaking languages I didn’t know.
 
She brought her workbook out of her bag
along with a pencil, the kind given out 
to elementary students for good behavior
or as favors at birthday parties
all silver and pink.

Long Division.

I thought we were going to work on English,
I told her and she said yes, we could, but she 
didn’t know how to do her homework and just wrote in
the answers her teacher wrote on the board
but didn’t know how 
to divide.

She was quiet and grateful,
not realizing my comprehension of math
was maybe a lesson ahead of hers.
She showed me the way she worked through the problem,
drawing boxes and filling in with numbers and 
I watched her,
her head tilted,
her quiet counting,
her dark fingers holding her pencil,
writing her twos with fancy curls.

I thought of her new home here
in cold and snow,
her in her long flowing colorful skirt
and her black headscarf
and the smile I could see up close
where she would share it.

She’d told me she’d come here 
a year ago to visit her brother 
and had been chased down the street
by a man yelling at her.
Go home!
He had a gun.
She hid.
She had no phone.
She didn’t remember where her brother lived.
She spoke no English.

I held her eyes.
I grasped her arm.
I apologized.

We are all people, she said.

How to protect this strong solemn smart woman
who has learned my language 
and become a citizen of the country I call home
all within a year
and now spends time with me
learning math
and the superlative
in this school basement,
sharing stories of her father
she left behind
in Djibouti
who has lost his memory
and doesn’t know who she is when she calls him every day?

Here 
with her
I am not a week ahead of understanding.

© Jessica Lantos – 2017

.

Her blog is located at notjustforspecialoccasions.blogspot.com.

*****

For the first 100 days of the Trumpet administration, this blog will feature a new poem of protest, by my own hand and by others. They will be polished gems, or rough cut drafts of rage, or in process pieces searching for peace. They may be haiku or tanka, limericks or lyrics, verses free or fettered. If you would like to submit to this endeavor, please send an email, with poem saved as a word document (.docx) to waxyandpoetic AT gmail DOT com. All rights remain with the author.

VISUAL ARTISTS ! Do you have something visually poetic that you’d like to submit? GO FOR IT!

Please address any formatting preferences in your email. I will post submissions time permitting, with at least one per day. Editing will be limited to obvious errors of spelling and the like.

Read, follow, share, re-tweet, submit, live, love, spread light! Don’t forget to use #100Days100Poems!

*****

 

 

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