Recently, I was in my favorite old used book store up the coast. I was looking at the poetry book section and came across a book by a poet named Annie McLeod Kuzma of whom I knew nothing.
Discovered that she was the daughter of a blacksmith and migrated to the USA from Glasgow, Scotland. She came to this strange land in 1951 and at the age of 89 died in a tragic hit and run accident when she was crossing the street in 1996.
In the following poem she describes the sea voyage:
I stood on the deck and watched the isles of my birth disappear.
My heart was sad and tears were near.
No more would I roam the hills and the heather,
Not for many years, if ever
My head was throbbing like a drum
As I wondered what would be in store for me in the years to come
Long hours had passed and I still stood there.
The thought of the lonely night I could hardly bear.
My eyes grew wary; my limbs grew numb.
The night was cold and a storm had come.
At last I wandered and moved below.
The sea was angry and started to blow.
All through the night the waves lashed the deck.
The wind was rough, the ship almost wrecked,
As it rocked and tossed,
And before many hours our course was lost.
I cared naught for what was happening around,
Not of time, nor place, nor even of sound
The ship could sink to the bottom of the sea.
In my nostalgic condition, it meant little to me.
At long last the storm had abated,
As everyone stood by and waited,
The time went on, the day grew near,
For the ship to land at the well-known pier.
The people were excited to meet their friends.
But when the moment did come, all were tense.
After preliminary questions were asked,
The ship, the journey, the landing were past.
I stood alone in the street to see
If some friendly face was waiting for me,
But soon I knew it would not be so.
I started to walk—to where?
I did not know.
I wandered to the railway station.
To prepare for my last destination.
The train steamed out from one city to another.
How I wished, at the end, I could see my mother.
I stared out the window to strange scenes flying past.
It was many hours before some sleep came to me at last.
The morning came and the journey ended.
The porter stood with his hand extended.
To help me alight to the ground below.
Again to strange places I did not know.
At last I ended the long, weary travel.
In the home of a friend.
I will always remember and marvel.
How that smile on her face with such beautiful grace
Helped me forget how strange the place.
The years have rolled on, but still long before I die,
To return to the land where I uttered my first cry.
THE IMMIGRANT by Annie McLeod Kuzma from the book THE IMMIGRANT and Other Poems VANTAGE PRESS 1987
Smile-it only takes a moment to give someone a smile. Perhaps, if there is a stranger who has traveled a great distance, a smile will help them “forget how strange the place” this land across the ocean can be.
In the final analysis we are all aliens in this country known as life. Our essence was born in the stars long ago, and it is that essence which looks at the night sky and is bathed by the starlight of our birth mother.
G. D. Williams © 2017
Who Was Annie?