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Guest Voz: A Latina immigrant’s poetic perspective on “Leaving Home”

By Marlene Woods

One Tuesday night

my father called,

“you must come tomorrow,”

he said over the phone.

In twelve hours we packed

our most basic belongings

and our lives.

We crossed the border

one September day

under the mid-day sun.

We crossed the line

into another world

full of promise, hope,

adventure, and joy.

We crossed into a new land

knowing we would

be together at last

as a family,

to work hard

for the better life

we dreamt of

the day we left our house.

My small red brick house

was left behind

in my mother land

vacant of a life that would have been,

empty of a life that never was,

and void of unrealized dreams;

dead before their birth.

What would have become of me

if we had never left that day?

At our new home

void of furniture

and full of unknowns,

I fell asleep

night after night

after tired red eyes

were empty of tears.

My poor teenage heart

full of laments,

had questions

and answers

I could not yet understand.

Each morning

when I awoke,

I closed my eyes tightly

hoping to be

in my own bed;

it always failed.

Why a new country

when I had my own?

Why impose another language

if mine I already knew?

It took half of a lifetime

to understand the reasons

for such pain.

The rewards arrived incrementally,

but for a while it was difficult

to accept such drastic change.

Now I am immensely grateful

for the opportunity to be,

someone I would have never been

if that Wednesday we had stayed.

Marlene Woods is a writer and poet. This poem originally appeared on

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