America’s Hands

America’s hands are cold and lifeless today.
What she is at her best–
a friend to the wounded,
a faraway hope for the hopeless–
I do not see in her fearful eyes.

How many of our mothers and fathers
dreamed of America?

A shining wonder of freedom and opportunity,
that is what our mothers and fathers thought.

Or at least a place to escape to
when escape is the only way to survive.

How many of us have aunts and uncles and cousins
who want to come to America?

Because they fled a life that was not a life, hidden inside,
waiting for the next bomb to fall.
Because their only homes now are tents
set up in refugee camps.
Because they do not have enough money
to buy vegetables.

Immigration is already difficult,
and they want to make it impossible.

If America is the land of the free,
who is her freedom for?

I am sad to see what America is becoming.

But I know this–
the America looking with suspicion and contempt
upon anyone she hears speaking Spanish or Arabic,
the exclusive America, of which many of us,
even with our official documents, feel only half citizens–
is only one version of America.

There is another America who understands
that to fight for immigrants is to fight for ourselves.

Because so many of us have mothers or fathers
or grandfathers or grandmothers who saw America
as a shining wonder of freedom and opportunity,
or at least a place to escape to
when escape was the only way to survive.

Lydia Hirsch is a poet, writer, and socialist living in Southern California. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Lydia.