Going Back

I am perched on the verge of a pilgrimage back to my roots.
These roots do not go as deep as those of my birth,
But Uruguay is, nevertheless, the earth from which these seedlings sprang,
Becoming shoots that would grow into the person I would become.
My parents never planted their feet on this soil, and
It blew away from under their feet as soon as they left it.
I cannot know what tendrils clung to me from there, but
I know that there are remnants of it still.
They may not be easy to recognize and identify, but they are there.

The thought of seeing Uruguay again thrills and frightens me.
Montevideo, which means “the view from the mountain,”
Is the city where I lived from age one through eight.
What an important period in my development it must have been!
For my family, it was a blip on the landscape of their lives—
A place to hide out till the war was over and
They could resume their lives in a place more suited to them.
That place turned out to be America . . . the “real America,”
The United States of America, land of promise and freedom.

As far as I can remember, my parents never communicated again with anyone
In Montevideo, where they had a business and raised their children.
When I return, I have no one to look up, no one to find.
It tells me how little emotional investment they made there.
The whole experience was wiped clean for them, but not for me.
I learned to talk there and went to the parks and the beaches,
And I started school there and learned to read and write.
I want to find some fragment of my roots
That were unceremoniously ripped out of that soil and left hanging.

I am taking my four daughters with me on this pilgrimage.
None of us know what to expect there, or even what we want to find.
I will go to the parks and beaches of my youth, knowing full well
That nothing will appear as it was. It has been over sixty years!
Yet I believe that something will come up for me,
That I can share with them, and we will all
Be a little closer to each other and to the little girl
Who grew up in this foreign land.

April 2007

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