Iona shares a poem about one ATCK’s journey in navigating life in her passport country.


by Iona McHaney Marcellino

Landmines, buried everywhere.
Deep under every step,
A bomb, waiting for my weight
That’s what they said at church,
I lost this limb to a landmine.

I tread carefully and wondered
Will one finally get me?
Breath held, ears closed to chatter.

In a reckless, homesick instant,
My foot slammed down. Stopped.
To see if I would join the wreckage.

I prayed the ground beneath
Would open and indelicately devour
My right leg. Then I could say, at last:

‘I belong to this land, I belong to this war.
Give me my crutch, and watch me weep.
I am not a spectator in my own home.’

But the red-grey rock remained still,
The colonial slabs never flinched and
My feet tread on tiles that never flew.

Now, hundreds of peaceful days later
My world cracks and swallows me whole
Every time I remember I don’t belong.

Every time I remember I am uprooted twice over
Replanted and unmarked, no red flag waving
‘Caution! Tread Careful!’

I am told, ‘That’s wrong, didn’t you know?’
I have to answer ‘Where is your home?’
And my unstable ground shakes.

When people ask where are your roots,
I pick up my feet to dig beneath them,
Then realise I have none, instead,
I have some dust I stomped on years ago.
I have some dust I used to call home.

Born in Scotland to expat parents and raised in Angola, Iona McHaney Marcellino is a second-generation Adult TCK, a nurse, and a writer. She has lived in Scotland, Portugal, Angola, Kenya, Saudia and the USA. Currently, Iona lives in Cambridge, UK, with her husband and daughter. She enjoys working alongside others committed to supporting TCKs with research-focused TCK Care. Iona writes about her own experience as a TCK in this blog, and she has pieces in A Life Overseas, Among Worlds, and Erraticus. She enjoys connecting with other Adult TCKs, virtually or in-person, and discussing the nuances of the multicultural life over a good cup of coffee.

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