Suitcase of One

Saying goodbye in 1979, we left our motherland and father behind.

“Will we ever see you alive again and feel your fraternal embrace, and if not, how long before we forget the sound of your voice, your high cheekbones, and your fearless face?”

Courage and strength led you by your fists to stay and fight CONTRA communism and atheism, all for freedom–freedom of family, faith, and individualism.

Packing for three in a suitcase of one, my mother, brother, and I piled into a cramped space liked frightened cattle leaving the Latino race of our ancestors and anarchists–Nicaraguan realists and idealists.

“Will we make it to America, Mama, and if so, how will we survive its political drama, which in time will recreate the hate we fought so hard to escape?”

Courage and strength motivated your maternality to sustain us not by begging but by making masa for nacatamales wrapped in banana leaves to sell on the streets of New Orleans.

Crying for normalcy and belonging in a country that doesn’t recognize my sadness, only my immigrant status, I fail to make eye contact with the Whites–tomorrow’s tycoons of industry, tomorrow’s Great Gatsby socialites.

“Will I survive in this strange land of liberty and opportunity, while I stumble my words with broken Englishy, looking after my little brother, feeling always like the minority?”

Courage and strength now calls on me. Together they tuck me in and lull me to sleep at night with a soft coo that soothes my memories of the deceptive destruction a civil war had on my proud hispanic family, a war that created a cultural dissonance within me, a war that made me what I am today–a warrior poet of freedom and truth, a voice for the forgotten, a voice for today’s disgruntled youth.


Chester Delagneau

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