Unlocking New Places in Our Hearts

A reflection by Confluence Year member Nicole Hamme

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already approaching the two-month anniversary of my new job with the Community Refugee and Immigration Services. Although I don’t get to work with them as much as I’d like, the refugee children have especially unlocked a new place in my heart. Their selflessness and bravery for entering a new, uncharted territory with their families in hopes of a better life free from war and violence astonishes me. They have said goodbye to an old life and one might associate this experience as something wounding, but their smiles hardly show it.

Below is a poem I wrote while driving a newly arrived Somalian family to their doctor appointment. The youngest son, just shy of four years old, was beaming with happiness as we drove through Columbus, pointing out the buildings and admiring his new world with wonder. His happiness was so contagious, it left an imprint on me for the rest of the day.

he’s yet to know the fragility of the human heart,

and I pray he’ll never have to,
for his father, and sisters
and sweet grandmother who smells of honey and spice,
will stitch him together with heroism if he comes apart

his little brown hands clap with joy
as the new noises filtrate through the car radio,
and i smile from the driver’s seat,
seeing the way his eyes glow
as he examines his new backdrop

welcome to America, friend.

i squint as I try to see the city through his unspoiled eyes,
instead of my distorted perspective
and loquacious voices that whisper
to me the truth,
that sometimes I’m not proud to be from here.

i hope the lyrics don’t poison your pure soul,
the billboards don’t corrupt your holiness,
please don’t buy into that fraudulent world,
you’re worth more than that

i wish we could interact through more
than a smile and laugh
so please forgive me for my inability to ask how are you?
in words you’ll understand
and I’ll try not to let our barrier hurt us

please know what I really want to say is
God bless you.
don’t let this world taint you little one,
show me the mystical, magical things from your world,
and know you are welcome here