Last month, Kristin read an article in the Montana Kaimin called “In Search of Home: Refugees Struggle for a Place in Missoula.” The article describes the struggles of refugees getting to America and how they adjust to life once they arrive. A quote from Joel Kambale, a man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, inspired Kristin to write the poem below. The quote was, “Where we are working, we are being asked many questions: ‘How did you get here?’ ‘Who brought you here?’ Such questions are not good,” Kambale said. Kristin felt deeply troubled by those questions and put her emotions into the words below.
The Husband Speaks From His Heart
Words pierce the air, so off hand,
where do you come from and why are you here?
the questioning people demand.
Who is your family and where do they live?
Invasive, intrusive, interrogative.
So much concern for what we are made of
have we tested your DNA?
It seems not enough to have skills and show up
The prodders still push in, that’s their way.
What does it matter to folks all around
to be poking for info, to dash with their tongues?
It’s so plenty hard for good work to be found,
to be dependable, honest and climb up the rungs.
I know where I come from, the stories were told
over and over by relatives young and old.
Yet I feel not better than those just come here.
It’s my desire to welcome all folks, I am clear.
Kristin McNamara Freeman
Photos and Interview by Elliott Natz