We Bring Our Ancestors to America—by Ayala Emmett

I came to America with black and white and yellow photographs
rolled in oriental rugs.
Between the pages of the Exodus and inside the Haggadah
I saved the journey of my wandering ancestors.
They were refugees who crossed borders,
holding precious children and whispering hope.

In America I keep asking my ancestors,
“How did you survive when they expelled you from Spain?”
“Tell me how you escaped from Portugal?”
“Where was the shelter for religious tolerance in Amsterdam?”
“Is it still there next to the house of Anne Frank?”
“Did you write down the names of the Christian families
who saved our little cousins in the Holocaust?”

Now I tell them I need to know more.
How is it that once again refugees are crossing dangerous borders?
Why do I see asylum-seekers who look like you,
they too hug beautiful children with haunting eyes just like our cousins?

On a spring day a gentle breeze moves the wind flags on my porch,
their tails circling green, red, and yellow
and my chimes sway in prayer east and west.
The ancestors I brought to America,
recite with the chant of Buddhist Monks
and the incantation of Torah trope

A Psalm for the World
All Humans Are Created Equal
Endowed With Unconditional Rights
To Life, Liberty, and Peace