July 16, 2005

Imagine what it feels like –
cultural conflict contained in your voice,
words a haven from daily exposure
to a world with noisy populace.

Messages mixing, I spent my years
enshrined in a tomb of my own creation
watching Spanish ladies dancing to
the sounds of Hava Nagila.

Mola-weaving Cuna women
with Stars of David round their necks
existed in my dreams as
their soft Ladino voices caressed my ears.

Guayavera-shirted boys turned men
chanting their Haftorah in the
tropical heat, boys who “twinned”
with Refuseniks who had been denied.

Did these things really exist?
Or did I invent them into being
taking pieces of my fabric and
wrenching them apart and then together?

I open my mouth and words
fused by the cadence of memory
slip from my ready tongue. If only
I can remember what language to speak.

As I have said previously, I was born in a place that no longer exists — the Panama Canal Zone. From birth to 14, I lived in a cocoon, in a warm utopia where cultures mixed in the warm tropical sun. My parents were Jews from the American South living as teachers in a foreign land, and I was born a native to neither land, but at home in each. This poem gives voice to the expression “you can never go home again”.



  1. Nice entry. Thanks for stopping by my site.

  2. as a third culture kid myself, this really resonates with me. nicely written.

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