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The Immigrant

When I visit a town I always search out old bookstores for I find that in these places there are myriad books which have long been forgotten.

Each book was written by someone who lived and touched the lives around them. Regardless of age, the authors still have valuable life lessons to convey to the reader.

Recently, I came across an elegant book of poetry written by a Scottish woman. Her name was Annie McLeod Kuzma, the daughter of a blacksmith in Glasgow, Scotland.

She immigrated to the United States in 1951. Below is her poem on that sea voyage and her trek across this strange land to her new home.

I stood on the deck and watched the isles of my birth disappear.

My heart was sad and tears were near.

No more would I roam the hills and the heather,

Not for many years, if ever

My head was throbbing like a drum

As I wondered what would be in store for me in the years to come

Long hours had passed and I still stood there.

The thought of the lonely night I could hardly bear.

My eyes grew wary; my limbs grew numb.

The night was cold and a storm had come.

At last I wandered and moved below.

The sea was angry and started to blow.

All through the night the waves lashed the deck.

The wind was rough, the ship almost wrecked,

As it rocked and tossed,

And before many hours our course was lost.

I cared naught for what was happening around,

Not of time, nor place, nor even of sound

The ship could sink to the bottom of the sea.

In my nostalgic condition, it meant little to me.

At long last the storm had abated,

As everyone stood by and waited,

The time went on, the day grew near,

For the ship to land at the well-known pier.

The people were excited to meet their friends.

But when the moment did come, all were tense.

After preliminary questions were asked,

The ship, the journey, the landing were past.

I stood alone in the street to see

If some friendly face was waiting for me,

But soon I knew it would not be so.

I started to walk—to where?

I did not know.

I wandered to the railway station.

To prepare for my last destination.

The train steamed out from one city to another.

How I wished, at the end, I could see my mother.

I stared out the window to strange scenes flying past.

It was many hours before some sleep came to me at last.

The morning came and the journey ended.

The porter stood with his hand extended.

To help me alight to the ground below.

Again to strange places I did not know.

At last I ended the long, weary travel.

In the home of a friend.

I will always remember and marvel.

How that smile on her face with such beautiful grace

Helped me forget how strange the place.

The years have rolled on, but still long before I die,

To return to the land where I uttered my first cry.

“The Immigrant” by Annie McLeod Kuzma from the book The Immigrant and Other Poems, Vantage Press, 1987.

Based on a Chicago Tribune article about her life, Annie made an impact in her community of Tinley Park. During her lifetime, she lost three children and two husbands, but her caring personality was always there to help a neighbor in need. Perhaps, when someone has suffered such loss, deep compassion is manifested in outreach to those in need.

It was on one of her visits to a neighbor in need when she became a victim of a hit-and-run while crossing the street. Her community lost this caring woman of 89, and lest we forget, she was an immigrant who left her homeland to come to a strange land, and in this land she made her home and a multitude of friends.

Perhaps, if there is a stranger like Annie who has traveled a great distance, a smile will help them “forget how strange the place” this land across the ocean can be. Smile—it only takes a moment to give someone a smile. 

“You will not mistreat an alien, and you will not oppress him, because you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21 Lexham English Bible (LEX)

 

G.D. Williams is recently retired after working in Adventist higher education for 30+ years. His pursuits include photography, genealogy, collecting antique books, and working on his old farmhouse.

Image Credit: Pexels.com

 

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