I am here

Where are you from?
Again, someone is asking me this
right at the Heritage Festival
under the beautiful summer sun
I’m from here.
No, no. Where are you really from?
By the way, you speak good English.
I made this town my home.
I’ve been here,
growing older,
spreading my roots under the ground
under my favorite red roof.
A displaced person –
a poor, poor person
who is not in her own country.
I’m quite happy here, thank you.
The only things I miss about the country I chose to leave
are family and friends who did not come with me
and – ah – beautiful stationery I can’t buy here.
I have my life here,
living, working, paying taxes, and
drawing Xs on ballot sheets.
Little memories that make me smile
bitter memories that turn into funny stories
I am piling them up right here in this town.
I live here and I am settled.
Who are you to try uprooting me from where I belong?
I am here.

Yukari F. Meldrum

Yukari F. Meldrum is a Certified Translator (Canada) who also teaches and writes whatever and whenever she feels like it. She immigrated to Edmonton in 1999 and became a citizen in 2007.

“As my home is here, I always say I am Canadian. Depending on the tone of voice of the person who asks me the question, ‘where are you really from?’, I feel uneasy because I take it that this person does not believe that I am from here. I understand that people can be curious as to what my ethnic background is, but I don’t care for the particular tone of voice that carries suspicion. I was told that I was overreacting, but I had to react by writing this poem especially since this happened at the festival where the variety of our heritage was supposed to be the whole point of celebration.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

One Response to “I am here”

  1. This is beautiful, Yukari! I have seen this type of behaviour far too many times, and love the statement you made about it. I had no idea that you wrote such beautiful poetry!

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