I am American,
Yet I was born and raised in France.
I came from overseas.
I traveled back and forth many times
Until I was complete.
A long journey.
My crown holds the entire world,
The seven seas within me.
In my right hand, I bring the light.
In my left hand, I hold the law.
On my feet, I left the broken chains
As a reminder that I have no master.
I have a friend, Mr. Hudson.
He is old and wise.
Mr. Hudson is always around.
He’s been living here for a long, long time . . .
His power is unquestionable.
He rules from Albany to New York City.
There is nothing that he doesn’t know about this land.
He sees everything.
He knows everything.
Mr. Hudson always tells me stories
about the time when I wasn’t even born.
He was a friend of the Native Americans.
He received the Dutch when they came over,
And he also witnessed their fall to the British.
He once told me about an old enemy, the Conqueror.
He also advised me about an uncovered enemy, “The Bull.”
The Bull lives in New Amsterdam.
He is an unpredictable man.
He rules the world.
The modern 21st-century master.
He brings prosperity and poverty.
No one can rise against him.
Everybody works for him.
Otherwise, one will face the taste of poverty.
He has a lot of partners, yet no friends.
The only friend he has is himself.
He often betrays his partners.
He is violent in his actions.
No one can control his wildness.
When Mr. Hudson opened my eyes,
I tried to move and light my torch.
After all, that’s my job.
To bring light.
However, I realized I couldn’t move.
I know my chains are broken,
Yet I’m helpless.
As time passes by,
I am losing more and more of myself.
The Bull’s influence is corrupting me.
I am turning green
Like his beloved desire,
And my identity
Is slowly fading away.
I was wondering . . .
Am I free?
Larissa Amorim Ballalai is a software engineer with a degree in computer science. She was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and her native language is Portuguese. In 2019, she arrived in the U.S. with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, and exploring NYC. At the New York Public Library’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, her teacher is Robin Poley.