New York Times, April 2, 2012
What is it like for a young girl to be uprooted from her home and sent to a new country? A poem by a Bronx high school student evokes sadness, loss and yearning.
The poet, Sarah-Kay Lemuel, is a student at Bronx Envision Academyin the South Bronx. An immigrant from Jamaica, she wrote about the experience in her poem for the Community-Word Project, which describes itself as “an arts education organization that sends trained teaching artists into under-resourced New York City public schools.”
The Community-Word Project has its annual benefit Monday night at Bonhams New York, 580 Madison Avenue. It will feature student works, including Sarah-Kay’s poem, which she will read aloud. We publish it here because of its powerful reflection on an experience shared by so many students in New York City.
Jamaica, My home…
By Sarah-Kay Lemuel
I remember leaving Jamaica, my only real home
The day was sunny and hot, I was 6 or 7.
My grandmother woke me, she smelled sweet,
Like the roses in her lush garden out front.
Even in the early morning, it was still so humid,
I remember the taste of my mother’s tears.
They tasted bitter, so very sad.
She wrapped her arms around my tiny frame.
Hugging me tightly.
Her skin was soft and smooth.
I remember hearing the tortured cries of my little sister as she
Was taken out of my mother’s loving arms.
I held her in my small arms as we drove along a bumpy road in a big White van.
Trying to console her, telling her “everything will be okay!”
My small hands wiping away the tears that streamed down
Her plump cheeks.
I watched the blur of palm trees and mango trees as we sped by.
With each mile we drove, I felt my heart crack.
When I stepped on the plane, I thought of it as a big metal
Monster that wanted to swallow me whole.
My heart shattered into pieces. The emotions overwhelming.
I burst into tears as I sat in my seat.
The pain in my chest, agonizing
My thoughts all over the place.
No more fresh air.
No more sitting in the shade of palm trees and eating mangos.
No more Mother and her gentle kisses before bed.
I cried myself to sleep that night.
I lost a piece of myself.
It was in Jamaica.
My only real home.