Nationality by Valerie Pate


The TV presenters are shouting.

Every line they deliver is accentuated by dramatic pauses and rising crescendos.

I scan the jammed airport terminal,

attempting to spy a man under forty not clad in a cap.

The voices are too loud; jarring.

I have returned once more to the U. S. of A.


“Welcome home,” they beam at immigration.

The stamp comes down upon the page of my passport,

signifying yet another Trans-Atlantic crossing;

but these alien surroundings no longer feel like home.

When had my alignment shifted?

My internal compass persistently swings me back to that island nation of

patchwork fields and cobbled cities,

cloaked in history and flush with culture.


I am gaping at my “light bite”;

freshly perplexed by the mammoth sandwich that spills past the plate’s edge,

as if boasting its own preposterous proportions.

My stomach turns as ruckus commotions ricochet around me; obnoxiously intrusive,

prompting my cheeks to redden with embarrassment by proxy.

Is that how I appear to others?


An invisible chasm engulfs me; unfamiliar isolation shrinking me inward.

When did I cease to belong here?

Perhaps the change has slowly evolved within me;

cell by cell, thought by thought –

persistently growing over time.

My finger skims the deep blue coat of my passport;

clearly marking me as American; a colour-coded label to categorize me in kind.

An unuttered question has yet to fully surface

when an innate affirmation resonates a response; humming with conviction.

In two weeks’ time I will board a jet-plane, heading back across the ocean,

and then I will return to my true, heartfelt home.

unnamedValerie L. Pate now happily resides in East Yorkshire. She has published two children’s books and has always enjoyed writing poems. Valerie is an enthusiastic participant of the Women of Words writing and performance group in Hull, and has recently shared some of her pieces on The Freedom Festival’s Speak Out stage. She has hopes of publishing further work soon, and knows that no matter where life leads she will write her way through it!


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