Bob Heath: Immigrant song.

Dear Immigrant,

Is that a wing I see in your tattered suitcase? Or is it filled with switchblades? And is that a bomb in your jacket, or framed portrait of the beloved? Will you come and steal my soul, or give me rainbow? Oh why do I fear you dear immigrant, when you are just like me? Are we not all strangers in a strange boat here, absolutely beholden to the other?

I do not see your horns, nor do I see a halo. You appear like me: one in transition, as every human is. You have been tossed aside, while people in high castles play the perverse chess game of history. But then, will we be embittered here in this new land?

Dear immigrant, are we not all refugees on this earth, sons and daughters of carbon? And do we dare close our doors and windows, when you come by? We have been living on the pig’s fat, high on the hog. We have been high in our castles — but you dear immigrant, you make us naked before the world. We see you in your rags, we see our own primordial fears. You tear off our insulation.

You who are considered a threat to that great mother sow, we call a country. What is a homeland really, but an abstraction, next to the light in your eyes? And everywhere, the roots are torn, and no one has a homeland, as long as you are still threadbare. No one is righteous, no one his holy, no one is safe. For since the dawn of time we have been tossed on stormy seas, sent out in every direction without a compass.

No you are neither one nor the other – neither devil no cherub. I will not give you wings of pity, nor the pitchforks of fear – I will try to regard you with my naked gaze. May light and mercy be found there, in both of us. For the world is on fire in lurid melodrama: but that is ignorance – that is not how it is. It is your laughter I am in search of, something to remind us that we are brothers and sisters, some inkling of home. It home is not found in a piece of dirt, but lives in the breastbone and tongue. Who will kiss you on the lips, if it is not I?

It is in these blessed moments of strangeness that we are made. And in the strangeness of the familiar. The other is a mysterious land, our true homeland. It is not this place of habit, this place of opinion, this place of insulation, this false abode we call ‘ours’. It is being suspended – face to face with the strangeness of the mother being.

That is the grace of the immigrant. To show us our real face. The face of fear. The face of beauty. The face of courage. The bloody transition from womb. The flight from the garden. The first hiccup. The boat full of strangers.

Compressed scraps of angel melody, stories, essays, rants against reductionism, commands from the deep.

Compressed scraps of angel melody, stories, essays, rants against reductionism, commands from the deep.