For the Lost

Tomorrow the sun will rise
to touch the face of life
some will feel it for the first time
others, here yesterday, gone today
death grounds us, wherever we come from
the closer we’ve been to it, the sturdier
Earth gets, the more we remember our roots

For all of us — families of immigrants
mourning from horizons of distant homelands
may our roots grow us deeper in origin
may the comfort of our cultures wash over us
may the memories of our motherlands mend us
wherever the ground beneath us
and those we’ve laid to rest

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“The theme of this year has been death,” she said. She told me she recently lost her uncle, and had just attended his funeral. “As a physician, we deal with death pretty regularly, unfortunately. It becomes routine and mechanical; it’s easy to become numb to it. Losing my uncle reminded me what it’s like to be in the shoes of a family member because I experienced death in a more emotional way.” Her family was Mexican, and she shared that her uncle’s wishes were to be returned to Mexico and buried with his mother, father, and siblings. She told me this had made her reflect on the many immigrants who leave their homelands, and never get to return or see the family members they left behind. She was grateful her family had the ability to honor her uncle’s wishes, but she knew not all families could. In too many cases, immigrants died alone without their families, and the families had to grieve from afar. She wanted the poem to be a comfort to these families and to all the immigrants who may know this kind of grief.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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