Immigrant Goes Back
by Neeraja Kumar (India)
Audio: "Immigrant Goes Back," read by Neeraja Kumar
Why does the sky appear black from the airplane
even though it’s sweltering noon on the ground?
Tell me it’s the city mourning my departure—
the sun has taken some time out
Streetlights below glitter blandly like ants
in a line, or the words of a poem. Unaware
of the world around them.
Oh city of facades!
Tell me that you loved me when I sat in your cafés,
breathed your air, walked your streets.
I know I wasn't born to you. I know my parents
lived in your shacks to earn bread and were waiting
to leave your torturous corporate holes. I know that I walked
to school in your streets with the knowledge that I didn't
belong. I couldn’t stay long. Yet tell me you loved me
through your polluted air.
Tell me to not forget following
tour guides down your creeks, memorizing
the veins of your roads—the ones that clogged
in the November rain. We’d dawdle hip-deep in water
down your zebra crossings,
while men in fluorescent orange boiler suits
pumped the water into their tipsy tankers.
I go back to a home I do not know, because I spent
all my life in pursuit of you.
Do you know how many friends I leave behind,
incubated in your belly?
Do you know an apartment now sits naked
and scarred in your gully?
I wish a crowd gathered at the airport
to wave me goodbye. I wish you grounded
my airplane. I wish you brought in a storm
and wailed that you would never let me go.
Neeraja Kumar, age 16, is a rising junior from Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kannur in India. Her work has previously appeared in The Poetryhood Movement, The World, and Write the World Review. She is also a Senior Editor at Polyphony Lit. When she’s not stuck staring gloomily at her desktop in virtual school, she likes to sit on her verandah and pretend to understand what the conversations of crows are all about.
10/15/21, 6:17 PM
This is beautifully written! You are incredibly talented. I'm in awe.
9/23/21, 7:15 PM
The last sentence, "Hush, hush, hush, you're not alone, adds a nice ending to the poem. I like the ambiguity.
8/10/21, 3:55 PM
That was so beautiful
8/4/21, 11:01 AM
Ah Tiffany - I LOVE this piece, and the ending.. it's so powerful and incredibly moving. Well done!
8/4/21, 11:00 AM
Well done Chris! I feel like I am right there in the street.. such a beautiful use of language in this poem.
8/4/21, 10:59 AM
Ah what a beautiful piece.. I can feel the promise in this morning.. like I do on summer mornings where I live. Beautifully read too!
7/30/21, 7:24 PM
7/27/21, 6:01 PM
This is beautiful, I love your use of onomatopoeia
7/23/21, 12:22 PM
7/21/21, 3:37 PM
7/21/21, 1:23 PM
Pain and nostalgia conveyed beautifully!
7/21/21, 8:35 AM
This is an amazing poem! The mixed feelings we have when we leave our home or city we grew is beautifully portrayed