I Only Wanted A Drink

Author: Niyah Pryor, 8th Grade

I only wanted a drink.

9/11 happened
People died
A plane crashed
People blamed the Muslims
I’m from Kurdistan
Where the people don’t have their own country,
Where other countries harass us into giving them our land
But we refuse
And get tormented

I walk into a bar and sit on a barstool.
I have never seen so many people in the same place before
Except in the refugee camp in Turkey that we stayed in for 4 years
The news is on the TV
They are talking about 9/11
People turn to me and stare
Their hearts filled with disgust like I just spit on the floor
Their eyes burn a hole into me as I look around the room
I only wanted a drink.

I feel like a zebra surrounded by lions
I try to run out but people tower over me
Yelling harsh words
I’m pushing through the crowd in the spacey bar
But get pulled
I only wanted a drink.

I think about my friends and family back home
Still going through this violence
I wasn’t going to hurt anyone
I only wanted a drink.

Now I just want to leave
I’m being pushed from wall to wall
I push my way towards the door
My head is spinning from all this commotion
I’m not any harm
I only wanted a drink.

Eighth grade English students at KIPP DC: KEY Academy considered the challenges of fictional and real refugees in their fall unit, centered around a study of the novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. The novel tells the story of a young Vietnamese girl and her family who are forced to flee their home during the fall of Saigon and ultimately begin to build a new life for themselves in Alabama. At the end of the unit, students used their knowledge of free verse poetry to write their own narrative poems that captured the universal refugee experience.

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