Wij Zijn Hier/We Are Here

Originally published August 15, 2019

We are here
and you’d like to forget it,
have us more hidden
then our black faces
and tired, old eyes.

Isn’t it enough to leave
my own country as a teenager?
Isn’t it enough to run on
bare feet from my home
that is at war with itself?
Isn’t it enough to be homeless
For 16 years and carry the stories,
maps with holes where our cities were bombed?

Of Khatorum,
Mogadishu, Awasa
​Kabul, Mosul, Senafe.

No, I must get on my knees,
already dirty from praying,
To ask you to see me.
I am not even asking for citizenship.
I have given up on that.
The nation that gives me rights will be my homeland.

I am asking for some water for my dry tongue
And pillow for my head so that my
hungry thoughts can dream.

I am asking you, to look at me, see me in the shadows
And in the light, as I search for life for my brothers.
As I search for life for myself.

See me because I am here, we are all here.

We are here.
We are the sea.
We are the nations.

Each of us stronger than the wounds that were supposed to leave us poor.
Each of us alive with hope for our children to believe their voices carry power.
Each us ready for tomorrow, hands open, ready to go home.

This poem was inspired by the words of our friend, Khalid, from We Are Here.

Katelyn Durst is a community artist, creative activist, teacher, and youth worker. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years and has taught poetry for six years, recently conducting poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital, and for Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color. Katelyn holds a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University with a focus on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. In her spare time, she dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper. She is poet-in-residence at The Mudroom. This poem originally appeared on her website, and is reprinted here by permission.

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