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The girl clutches close to the side on the back of the truck
Whichcontains her furniture, all she knows.
The chill night wind tries to blow heroff,
And she wishes she could let it
Sweep her down from this insanity ofchange
And toss her among the sweet Grama Negra grass
Or the dusty, reddirt streets she has known most of
They told her it was timeto go,
But never fear; we'll return in a year.
365 days toomany.
The tears creep up as she curls in the corner,
Not daring to look outon the city
Where she knows her friends are,
The friends she will not seefor a long time.
A year is an eternity when you are ten.
The next day sheclimbs aboard the large, shining plane.
Scared, excited, nervous, must holdher head up high and not cry.
A simple whisper, Adios, Bolivia,
As the landpicks up speed and slips away beneath her.
There go the palm trees, the openpampa lands,
The tiny people going about their lives,
Never looking up towish her good-bye.
There goes the school where she skinned her knee the veryfirst day
And where she learned to flip and do splits.
There goes the placewhere she was taught to Flamenco dance.
There goes everything sheknows,
The world she was brought up in,
As she soars out over thejungles,
The bright ribbon of the Amazon,
And over the twisting seas.
Ayear is not so bad. It will be over soon.
They never dreamed they would notreturn to live.
Look, they cry, look! There are the States.
We've arrived.Estamos aqui.
She stares down upon an alien sight of smog and bleakgray
Curling around the dashing cars, like thousands of antseverywhere.
How can there be so many, Dad? Is everything made of concretehere?
Later, as they all piled into a car,
They would become sick from thesmoothness of
The excitement of this land lasts only aday.
Wal-Mart, a miracle!
How can a store be so large?
Where are theopen markets
And the people thronging every street?
Culture shockoverwhelms her.
She cries herself to sleep, wishing only for a one-way ticketto home.
Months later, she still cries.
She misses her amigas,
The houseat kilometro catorce, made of Spanish tile and red brick.
She misses her dogsthey had to leave behind.
The people here are so different, so weird.
Shedoes not know how to fit in.
Her clothes are outdated.
She has been broughtup in a conservative, old-fashioned atmosphere.
She does not consider makeupimportant
And who cares if she does not know who the
Why is she harassed, laughed at, isolated?
Why does she make nofriends?
She made none at all for a year,
By which time they were supposedto have returned.
"We'll have to wait another year,
It's only a year."
The excuses pile up,
Endless, like dirtylaundry.
Finally, they admit they are here to stay.
That takes them fouryears to decide.
By then, she has already forgotten much.
The memories wereat first too hard to think of,
So she pushed them out of her mind at allcosts.
Now she can't even recall them.
The beautiful language that slidesup and down
upon your tongue
Has slowly melted away.
She forcesherself to be a chameleon,
Melting into the society,
Sacrificing much for afew friends.
Still, she does not know how to fit in.
She is hated; she isdifferent.
In eighth grade, they pour ketchup down her back
In the middleof the cafeteria,
Simply because she chose to stand up for
They try to knock her over
By throwing balls at her head in gymclass.
They circle her as she walks home from school alone,
Chanting at hercruel things she buries deep within.
They purposely ruin her shopproject.
But she never tells.
Oh, no, they would be even worse to her ifshe
She's learned that about their culture, at least.
Noone sees the tears she cries into the night.
No one sees the pain as they talkabout her:
She may be smart, but she has no friends,
And she is SO uglyshe'll never get a date to
She remembers every word, everyaction.
So she tries harder, thinking,
Maybe if I'm good ateverything,
Maybe if I can prove I'm worthwhile,
They will respect me andlike me.
She nearly kills herself doing this.
The competition rulesher,
Taking her as a slave,
And it is for nothing.
Because she is betterthan they at a few things,
They hate her all the more.
Constantly comparingherself in every aspect,
She wonders if she'll ever measure up.
She is tornin two,
A child of two cultures,
A piece of both, but a part ofneither.
Always she stands on the outside, looking in.
Always she longs tobe them.
Always she wishes she had never left the country she onceknew,
But now it is too late; she has been here too long.
When she doesreturn to visit,
Nothing is the same, and she no longer knows the
people or the culture.
She will never fit anywhere.
The girl isme,
And I am tired of the year that never ended.
A Decision by Shawn G., New City, NY
The Chinese Shower by Liz F., Huntington, NY
Winter in Alaska by Alecia L., Fairbanks, AK
By Amanda F., New City, NY
Published by The Young Authors Foundation, Inc. - A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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without the writtenpermission of the publisher: The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.