A Birthday with the Refugees


THE ART THERAPIST comes to class,
bringing felt squares and embroidery floss,
and my long-gone grandmother
whispers, “French knots for the flowers.”
Against a backdrop
of voices from around the world,
I thread a needle
and am carried off.

Later, during English,
when it comes out
it’s my birthday,
there’s a raising of eyebrows –
Congolese, Nepali, Iraqi and Cuban –
and singing
by those who know the words.

A Nepali woman
reaches into her bag and
pulls out an apple.
After the last note, she says
“Happy birthday, Mah-rah-leen”
and presents it to me
with great decorum.

Feeling certain
it’s her lunch
or part of it,
I want to refuse,
but know I don’t dare
or she’ll be hurt.

No amount of gushing thanks
will make up for
my not accepting it
and using it.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in most excellent gifts, refugees, self-pity. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Birthday with the Refugees

  1. Katie says:

    So true – you chose wisely, Marilyn.
    Your care for others feelings is beautiful:)
    And Happy Birthday!
    Grateful for your writing:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pastordt says:

    I wondered if you might celebrate with your beautiful friends. So glad you could!

    Liked by 1 person

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