On Mother’s Day, my youngest son enters the house. “Today is a good day to read Between Worlds” he says.
I look at him puzzled. “Why’s that?” The answer comes quickly: “Because I’m your son.”
For better or for worse, we who have lived between pass on the in between to our children. We who are “always too foreign” give birth or adopt children who will absorb this, and cry out in their own pain.
So I go looking for expressions of between, and I don’t have to look far. I find a brilliant Nigerian poet, and after two poems I know she is my favorite. I offer them to you who live between. You – the foreigner. You – the one who absorbed your parents’ in between.
At the embassy,
they never warned us that some days,
America will feel so lonely,
we will gather our mother tongue,
hastily swallowing words that reminds us of home to keep warm.
i have a special place in my heart for children who calmly translate for their parents. so proud of how they switch their tongue, carrying two languages in their mouth without ever feeling like their parents are a burden. bless your hearts.
So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.
“Diaspora Blues” by Ijeoma Umebinyuo
Note: You can buy Ijeoma’s book of poetry here.