One Refugee’s Gift
One refugee’s gift is pleading,
“Don’t bury me yet
I’m still alive
I’m still breathing
I may be a bit paralysed
For I got stuck inside for quite a while.
When my brilliance starts to dim
Or when my sharpness dulls in time
It may seem and feel like I am gone
Like life has lost all of its fun.
But, please don’t lose hope on me.
Don’t bewail nor lament over me at all
For I’m still here, hanging on
Quietly lying in a corner of your world.
I am sick right now.
I know it’s too much to bear for you
When you have so much of me.
But, your life’s circumstances
Shut you from shining through.
When you sailed the sea at night
And tomorrow didn’t promise light
When you walked the arid path
And there’s no going back no matter what
When you shivered in the cold
Or, when you’re lost from the fold
When your purse run empty and old
And, you have no ring of gold
When you used to be bold
But now you feel owned and sold
When you used to track low and high
And, now you’re just drifting by.
When you fought against thieves of sanity
As you struggle to hold your true identity
As a part of a family, of a royal humanity
Above beasts and pets, never a commodity
Yet you feel shamed as you stride with dignity
I exhort you,
You may lose all other things
But, never let go of me
Please don’t let me fall
To the land of nothingness
It’s not over yet, hold on tight
Cling to life, do not lose sight.
I came with you at birth
I was with you through mourning and mirth.
Don’t let your love wane
Even if sometimes I can cause you pain.
Others have given up in despair
Choosing to let go of theirs.
Completely dismissed, abandoned,
Discarded, forgotten, unreckoned.
It’s not the case for you,
Please tell me it isn’t.
When I plead with you
I hope you will listen.
Get me pumped a little
And, a little more each time
Brush me a little
And, a little more each time
Feed me a little
Just, a little more of your time.
I don’t promise much
Because I depend on you
But who can tell if I can
Make a better room in this world for you?”
The first time our eyes met, I truly cherished
how we were weak, yet bonded strong in spirit.
The pain and bleeding could not extinguish
The joy in this special moment I relished
When I held you in my bosom
And a new life started to blossom.
I was scared to bathe you, you were so fragile.
What if you slip through my hands? A thought I couldn’t handle.
I felt awkward, unequipped, so I watched your grandmother
But you had my softest touch, my most tender cuddle.
You are my greatest treasure, no matter the pressure.
I want to give you pleasure like life is an adventure
I pound on hope when it seems like there’s no future
I hold on to faith, hope and love – our lives’ core culture.
How I love to see and feel how you do it in your world –
You sang “row your boat” when we’re afraid of drowning
You gave a sweet smile when everyone is frowning.
You told me your dreams when mine were fading
You created wonder for things that need fixing.
I thought to teach you all I know
To turn your life into a better one.
But, it’s me you’re teaching how to become
A better and more authentic human
A pure loving soul living under the sun.
Dreamy eyes, I pen this poem for you.
Inspiration flows, I’ll make another one or two.
I will not stop; I’ll just pause I guess
With a note that says,
“You’re a face that gives beauty to a mess.”
J.C. Koum is an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence currently displaced in Hong Kong. She is an accountant but is on a healing journey from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and looking ahead to restart her life in safety. While in displacement, she reignited an interest in poetry and writing which helped her process traumatic events and other life ordeals. Having been raised in a conservative culture with a shaming and silencing background, she used to be ashamed of her personal history of abuse and kept them beneath a thriving career until she fled with her daughter for safety. With some help, she’s now learning to tap into her greater strength and compassion which makes her believe that she has more to offer life and community than before.