By Muna Agwa
10th grade, Hathaway Brown School, OH
With lines from "For an Agricultural Worker, Supporting His Family Means Being Separated from Them" by Ingrid Holmquist and Sana Malik, a Pulitzer Center reporting project
The story of a father and a daughter, of a husband and a wife.
Of two nations, cut by unseen lines.
Two nations, close together,
yet so far apart.
A father and a daughter:
so far apart that the silken sky is the only thing connecting them.
swallowed by the same moonlight her father cries under.
So I grew up like this, he says.
The men laugh, clapping their dry and battered hands, calloused and yellowing from overuse.
Their wilting paper smiles silently pray for water like they silently pray for home.
They nurture a stolen land that tried to lock them out.
Tear its fruit from the ground to feed their
Sometimes people see us joking and think we’re happy, he says.
Sometimes the coastline is the only thing connecting the husband and the wife, neatly packing together
the earth shared beneath them.
Nothing but a body can fill the stiffening crater in her bed.
I have tried to become strong, she whispers.
Sometimes you have to spend your whole life working,
building a family to laugh with wherever you go.
Sometimes you have to carry your invisible family on your back,
bringing your country with you.
My life is divided into two parts, he says.
Muna is a rising junior at Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Ohio. She enjoys reading and writing, swimming, problem-solving, and learning new things. She hopes that one day, people can overcome their differences through art and empathy. As a first-generation American, she has seen firsthand how immigration can separate families and was inspired to write a poem highlighting this reality. Muna aspires to be a surgeon one day, although she hopes to never stop writing.
Read more winning entries from the 2021 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.