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WITS Anthology Student Poem: Not Born but Raised by Elena Siekmann

Elena Siekmann was a student in a WITS residency at Franklin High School with Amy Minato and was published in The Seeds to Plant the Future, the Writers in the Schools 2019-2020 student anthology. 

Not Born, but Raised

by Elena Siekmann

“What if we went back?” I asked.
“And leave here?” she responded.

Complicated. To say the least.
We became the kids in America.

I wasn’t really sentient before I arrived here.
All I know is America.

My brother remembers school from back then,
And my sister picked up an English accent along the way.

We took the piano with us, the large golden braid framed mirror,
And the many dust-soaked, old-smelling books.

My father blogged the journey,
And I slept the journey.

At Fourth of July,
people sang loudy “I was born in the USA!”

And I sang along.
I wasn’t aware the lyrics didn’t apply to me.

I eventually learned.
I learned I could never say I was “born and raised” truthfully.

My father spoke German to me.
I spoke English back.

My grandma barely spoke English, and I barely spoke German.
So we rarely spoke.

We became divided, and
Not only by a body of water.

Memories faded,
And appearances changed.

But I learned the language,
And I returned with my father one chilly Spring.

But we had to go back to America.
We had to repeat the journey.

And this time,
I was awake.

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