Thursday, September 23, 2021

Poetry Friday: Migrants

Yesterday I saw my first warbler of the year, the first migratory bird this season (except a couple of Ospreys I saw two weeks ago). I'm pretty sure it was a Prairie Warbler, but it's a little hard to identify them when you're a beginner like me, and so many of them are various shades of black and brown and yellow. Here's what I wrote about it:

First migrant this year

Hides behind leafy branches - 

So much I can't see.


The main kind of migrants in the news these days are the human variety. Here in Haiti we have been reeling from the photos and words from Del Rio, Texas. It's easy to stereotype the people under the bridge, but everyone there has a unique story, a complex set of events that led to this moment. 

I've been thinking about Rupa & The April Fishes' song Poder. It talks about what can cross the border and what can't. Obviously birds can and do (we're starting to see them arriving here), but for people it's a lot more challenging. The song on the video is in Spanish, and below is the English translation from the CD liner notes. 



the fish can

the wind can

even money

but not me

the song can

love can

even a little kiss

ay! because of this border

the earth cries, the earth cries

and I do too

in spite of this border

life is like water

it must run

the coyotes can

an ice cream can

even a whisper

but not me

the televisions can

injustice can

even my work

but not me

my thirst can

my gaze can

even my heart

but not me

Rupa Marya

When people who are being deported arrive back in Haiti, lots of them have microphones and video cameras thrust at them and the raw stories come pouring out. Many have crossed nine or ten countries to reach Texas, facing heartbreaking danger and abuse along the way. And now, they are back where they started. All that money, all that risk, all those months of travel thrown away. Home now in a country they no longer recognize, full of so many new problems beyond the ones they originally fled. 

What should be done? It's not clear. But each migrant has a story; we don't know until we listen. There's so much we can't see.


I appreciated this article that goes into the history of the current crisis in depth. There's plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the political aisle in the US, through policies in many countries including the US, Haiti, and Mexico, and in individual decisions. It's long, but well worth reading if you're seeking to understand how things got this way.   

By the way, next Friday is the 1st of October, and I am trying to do at least some of Birdtober this year. I'll be writing, not drawing, and I've only written one post so far, so we'll see how that goes. I thought if I wrote about it here today, I might increase the likelihood that I'll do more! 


Laura has this week's roundup.


Irene Latham said...

Dear Ruth, this post is so rich and layered, and that song! Wow. My heart is with those migrants, both footed and feathered. xo

Linda B said...

Thanks for the article, Ruth. I've been following as much as is posted. Haiti does not need more challenges, I'm sure, but as you wrote, they have stories, and needs. I imagine that this has taken over from the earthquake needs, too. I love the song, a heartbreaking translation. I belong to the group Playing for Change & wonder if they sing it? Best wishes for your "Birdtober" writing.

jama said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this humanitarian crisis, and the translation of the song (its upbeat, spirited rhythm belies the underlying poignancy). The stories we're hearing all the time about refugees and migrants are so heartbreaking.

Mary Lee said...

"each migrant has a story; we don't know until we listen. There's so much we can't see.' SO important. Love the song and your connection to the warblers.

Cloudscome said...

I love your short bird poem. I am not that good at identifying warblers either. One hit a window at my church and fell dead into the courtyard. I knew it was some type of olive/yellow/brownish warbler on fall migration, but couldn't say for sure which. We just mourned it and gave it eternal rest.

The crisis in Haiti and on the border is so heartbreaking and complicated. Thanks for giving us some direction for sorting it out in our minds. It's unfathomable, of course.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Great song. Haiku of perfection. Of course I write Strongly Worded Letter to someone most days, but when that news broke Joe and and his whole administration got an earful from me. What makes us so despicable sometimes?

Jone said...

The haiku is beautiful. And you are so right about the complexity of the migrants. I cannot imagine. Have your read WE ARE NOT FROM HERE? It's about migrants from Central America.

Alan j Wright said...

Ruth, your post is full of emotion and the eternal search for understanding. I enjoyed your poem and the lyrics of the song as well.The vexed topic of migration is a universal challenge that politicians often use for less than honourable reasons. It saddens me and the stories surrounding it present in both heart breaking and uplifting ways...
Good luck with your Twitching.

Elisabeth said...

I'm a fledgling ;-) birder myself, so I look forward to your Birdtober posts. Thank you for this thoughtful post about the arbitrariness of the lines we draw to separate ourselves from one another.

Michelle Kogan said...

There's so much, and so many layers in your short haiku–powerful and so is Rupa & the April Fishes' I couldn't keep still. Thanks also for the tip on Birdtober—good luck with yours I may try some. I love warblers, just saw many yesterday at a favorite bird sanctuary in Chicago, thanks for all Ruth!

Janice Scully said...

Ruth, your posts are always so powerful and remind me of the complexity of the word migration. Thank you for the Birdtober chart. What lovely prompts and a good way to learn more about birds. Thanks for sharing Rupa and the April Fishes. That trumpeter, all of them are awesome!