Poetry > Modern Persian Poetry > BECOMING AMERICAN BY ROOZBEH SHIRAZI
At last we earned
A belligerent welcome
Pried with 19 years of persistence
from the hallways of INS
I would go to Detroit as a young boy
I sat in hard plastic seats under economic fluorescent lighting
And rubbed my toe into the worn carpeting
While my parents, along with tomorrow’s engineers and doctors
Nervously shuffled their papers
And whispered reassurances to loved ones
Waiting for their turn
5th column Americans
The truth is that the path to citizenship
paved with cold Midwestern logic
and barely restrained racism
only we couldn’t call it that because we weren’t black
we were Iranian
esoteric in our pride
unremarkable in our misery
and ever on the losing side of history.
So instead we waited.
Relenting under the gaze of beefy security guards
Who frowned upon food and drink and bathroom trips
As time passed on at the whim of bureaucrats with guaranteed jobs.
Born a native son, I grew bored easily
Of thumbing through copies of the Children’s Bible.
As federal water cooler talk spilled into the lobby
I would occasionally turn and yawn
and stare at Canada across the dark grey river.