The barred windows and fortress walls,
the wooden benches where applicants waited,
the bald eagle and the rasping of microphones.
The heat rising off the tarmac, the little men
with orange flags raised, waving good luck!
farewell! The engines throb, the lights dim,
the captain speaking. Acceleration, take-off,
the plane pointing its nose to the unknown,
the ground falling away, no turning back.
At immigration, bright lights and long lines,
burly officers, biceps, badges, tattoos bulging,
guns glistening from holsters at their hips.
I said I have nothing to declare, no valuables,
no currency, contraband, nothing. An alien,
I feared deportation. What if I can't assimilate?
I bent my tongue to new inflections, though not
without an accent. Every day seemed a mistake.
I grit my teeth even though my soul rebelled.
I renounced, I abjured, I pledged my troth to you.
Did I give myself freely? Did I bear true faith?
I did so not knowing how, so help me God.
Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared in World Literature Today, Best American Poetry 2018, PN Review, and online at The London Magazine and The Guardian.