America is Singing

-by Esmeralda Ruiz

Students from Manual High School in Denver visited KGNU recently to record some of their poetry. In their 10th grade American Literature class, the students have been writing, discussing, and reading about “The American Dream”. They’ve been inspired to write their own poetry on this theme. KGNU will be featuring these poems throughout January.



My ancestors heard Americamanual high students
and followed the song,
a tune of a brighter future
Their feet tread across the border.
Their steps beating
the dirt creating a rhythm like
a heartbeat.

“Where are you from?”
“Right but– where are you from?”
You assume I am not from here.
Because my skin is darker than yours?
Because my first language is
not English?

These words rattle around inside of me
like change in a
tin can.

Why is the first question
a substitute teacher asks me
“are you an immigrant?”
she says it,
that my brown skin must mean
my English
is shaky.

“Go back to Mexico!”
“You guys are not going to make it.”
Am I the person who doesn’t
belong here?
I live in two cultures,
two worlds,
Two parts of me.
I am split.
I speak
two languages.
Maybe it isn’t me who is
out of place.
My ancestors heard America
singing and
my descendants will
one day
the choir.