Shelter from the Storm: A Story of Fleeing Home

2018’s Fate for Immigrants and Refugees

A firefighter rescues a child from a car aflame due to the Syrian Civil War (2018).
Migrants gather during a motivational rally amidst the caravan migration to the US-Mexico border (2018).

In 2018, we heard this story told in a number of different lights, with a number of different causes.

Civil War in Syria (Year 8)

Syrians in an urban area flee a building aflame during the Syrian Civil War (2018).
A woman walks her child through the ruins of a war-torn, devastated town (2016).

Mexican Immigrants, the Border Wall, and the Migrant Caravan

Members of the migrant caravan march toward the U.S.-Mexico border (2018).
An immigrant shields her eyes from tear gas hurled by the Border Patrol at the U.S-Mexico Border (2018).

You don’t leave home until home kicks you to the doorstep.

You don’t leave home until home tells you you are no longer welcome

When the voice that once lullabied you to peaceful slumber violently awakens you,

When the woman who raised you on lofty dreams, ambitions nurtured, warm porridge dribbling down your chin ,

When she closes her door,

You have no choice but to flee to the streets.

When the ground from which you blossomed uproots the very seeds it planted,

You must dust off your dirty knees, walk onward, find somewhere else to root.

When the boy in whose arms you felt whole casts you away,

You may feel “ungrounded” for a while,

But when every ground on which you’ve set foot gives way to shaking,

You don’t have a place to stand.

And when the diamond gleaning with promise you once held blood-warm in your palm slips away from you,

You’re reminded that cloaking yourself in silence

and darkness unbridled

is the only “skilled labor” you’ll ever truly master.

It’s hard to ground an identity nomadically

Hard to feel that you are anything more than a collection of tattered fabrics

stitched together by the words “you are not wanted here.”

You need to understand

You’d only choose naked skin torn on barbed wire fences

Over skin burned by fire

Only opt for ruthless strip searches, feet adorned in shattered glass

Over the sight of your child’s body in just as many pieces.

You don’t nest in back of moving trucks,

journey miles of uncharted road by tired foot

Unless the alternative is an unknown man between your daughter’s legs

Gunshot wounds,

A patchwork of scratches on your son’s arm,

Blue-black from the street-poison you always told him not to try.

Some things about the promise land that I know to be true:

What’s true is that it is an assemblage of realized dreams

you’re met with open arms beckoning at the gates

What’s true is that in daybreak’s forgiving light you can remake yourself

It is a refuge from the fire

where huddled masses can breathe free

From the stench of burning bodies

What do you do when truth has become obsolete?

When beckoning gates turn to a wall insurmountable,

What do you tell your children?

What do you do, when

In the eyes of the promise-land

You are the eye of the storm,

You are nothing more than the fire you flee,

setting ablaze everything in your path?

You think, I’ve walked an Odyssey in these worn shoes

but when the journey

through siren and scylla

means less than the chaos from which I am fleeing,

Penelope closes the door.

You think: I am so much more more than that from which I’ve treaded dirt-ridden roads, brutal day and starless night to escape

And I want to go home, but home has kicked me to the doorstep

And I’m tired — and this skin is tired,

I’m told that home is a feeling and not a place

Maybe that’s why terror coursing my veins feels so familiar.

Aspiring human.