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What is Left

What is (left)

What is Left

or, why this puzzle exists…

During my 2019 Poetry, Puzzle, and Pie Happy Hour at the Barrington Public Library in Rhode Island I watched four people assemble this 500-piece puzzle for the very first time. James, Rick, Liz, and Jordan had never one another prior.

As he shuffled and sorted pieces puzzlenik James said to me, “Wow, Sarah Jane! There are so many stories contained in this puzzle!”

Indeed.

 

Our country is a puzzle. Our country contains so many stories.

As does every country.

What happens when you leave your country?

Where do those stories go?

Periodically, I volunteer at Dorcas International and at Providence’s Refugee Dream Center. A year ago I attended RDC’s World Refugee Day celebration and heard performer Sylvia Ann Soares read a now-famous poem by a British-Somali poet, Warsan Shire.

It began with these lines:

 

No one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark.

 

Why is it so very, very difficult for those of us who live in relative security to understand what it means to leave home? Epigenetically, Native Americans withstanding, we all have left our soil of origin. Our DNA must know the terror a refugee knows.

 

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…

 

After Trump’s ascension to power in the United States Federal election of 2016 Emma Lazarus’ powerful enjoinder surfaced in our media frequently as each citizen’s views on immigration worked its partisan logic. Some people emphasized the word “refuse”; others “give me.”

 

What is left for those searching for a safe port in the storm of life?

Who survives this struggle – and why?

What does it take for us to remember what it means to be a stranger in a strange land?

 

Such are the questions that circulated in my mind as I made this image.

I’ll look forward to hearing your responses…

 

Library in Rhode Island, I watched four people assemble this new 500 piece puzzle for the very first time.

 

James, Rick, Liz, and Jordan went to work immediately.

 

As he shuffled and sorted pieces puzzlenik James said to me, “Wow, Sarah Jane! There are so many stories contained in this puzzle!”

 

My ego blushed, Yes, there are!

Our country is a puzzle. Our country contains so many stories. As does every country.

 

What happens when you leave your country?

 

Where do those stories go?

 

I volunteer at Dorcas International and at Providence’s Refugee Dream Center when I can. A year ago I attended RDC’s World Refugee Day celebration and heard performer Sylvia Ann Soares read a now-famous poem by a British-Somali poet, Warsan Shire.

It began with these lines:

 

No one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark.

 

Why is it so very, very difficult for those of us who live in relative security to understand what it means to leave home? Epigenetically, Native Americans withstanding, we all have left our soil of origin. Our DNA must know the terror a refugee knows.

 

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…

 

After Trump’s ascension to power in the United States Federal election of 2016 Emma Lazarus’ powerful enjoinder surfaced in our media frequently as each citizen’s views on immigration worked its partisan logic. Some people emphasized the word “refuse”; others “give me.”

 

What is left for those searching for a safe port in the storm of life?

Who survives this struggle – and why?

What does it take for us to remember what it means to be a stranger in a strange land?

 

Such are the questions that circulated in my mind as I made this image.

I’ll look forward to hearing your responses…

© Sarah Jane Lapp, 2020