Accidental Immigrant

Ride the winds of change, unafraid.
LARRY WARD

I am working on poems about crossing borders. I’ve been wondering about what takes precedence to determine the word: immigrant or emigrant. Which perspective, and when?

Is everyone who lets go of a life, crosses a border, seeking?
Wanderlust has no destination. Escape is a closed door at your back.

Now what?

I itch often to transgress the solid lines. And that is odd for someone who is eager to please as I am. So desirous of approval: “flink pike”. I’m not someone who will color outside the lines, cut corners, or bend a rule. But I can – and have picked up and walked away. I’ve burned bridges behind me, too.

Can one ever know if the reasons for our actions are rationales, or rationalizations? The stories for our leavings. It’s funny that I am never asked about those – but for the stories of my destinations. “Why did you come here?”

Why not? It could have been anywhere unknown. Anywhere that smelled of strangers. Anywhere that would allow memories to lie still. Still enough for reflection.

I’ve noticed how the sea smells different everywhere it touches land. In winter sometimes, along Stavanger’s quayside it smells of watermelon. Orre strand smells dark as the rot that brings new life. Along the Canaries, the shore is jagged to inhale. Up north near the North Cape, it’s razor sharp.

I’ve been landlocked before, and lakes don’t breathe on their own. I’ve read that everything depends on the birds that come and go with the seasons, and on storms temperamental enough to drag bits of the world around with them. Transgressions like those of traveling merchants. Or militias.

I’m still pulled to wander, but I’m also learning now how porous the borders are. How even still waters will swell imperceptibly and spill into your path. How storms will drop fish and lizards from another county into your lap. No bridges necessary.

In Norway the name for hopscotch is å hoppe paradis. I have no idea why paradise. But hopping from square to square – chasing small stones, turn and return – does sound good to me right now. Simple. A little naive.

And meditative.

2 Comments

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  1. Great theme. And the different smells of the sea!

    FYI: Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake have a collection of poems about immigration: “On The Move”.
    “What you leave behind
    Won’t leave your mind.
    But home is where you find it.
    Home is where you find it.

    Liked by 1 person

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