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A Man and A Promise

Updated: Jan 4

You heard whispers,

of a promised land

Tales of opportunity

to let your dreams expand


Money to be made,

food to be fed

Space to grow a family,

each kid its own bed


Your friends also heard

of the land of the free

So you all ventured off

keeping each other company


You showed up empty-handed

you were lent a few dollars

But quickly realized

what it meant to be blue-collared


You arrived in the summer

and they showed you estates

Feeding you the hope

of living behind community gates


Winter came quickly,

your bones chilling cold

All the money you earned

turned out to be fool’s gold


You built homes

with shivering hands

You would do whatever it took

to live out your plans


You brought a wife

and three sons

Leaving their home

and all their loved ones


I was born

and then my brother

With parents always working

we raised one another


At first, there were friends

a real sense of comradery

Over time

became a rare commodity


Life in the west

was no joke

The pressure of survival

better not choke


This survival

it took its toll

With no time to rest,

to nourish the soul


I commend you

and all that you endured

But I can't help but feel

the dream was obscured


The very land

you traded your life for

Started to weigh on me

left me wanting more


What is wrong

with children sharing a bed?

A small cozy home,

with homemade bread?


Less money in the bank,

more time on the clock

Perhaps a house on the sea,

maybe a boat on the dock


I wanted to feel my roots

and meet all of the people you left

A life that existed before me

felt like theft


So I took my family,

just like you took yours

And moved across the globe

to discover distant shores


The term “motherland”

finally made sense

Like a mother’s embrace

a peace so immense


I often wonder

did you take offense

that I took a U-turn

where you jumped the fence?


Your sweat and tears

were not shed without cause

They set me free

living without clenched jaws


The clean air,

the shining sun

The deep blue sea to jump in

when your day is done


It’s the homemade wine

and family meals

The garden soil

digging in your heals


It’s the aunts, uncles and cousins

I never got to meet

It’s the friendly neighbors

waving in the street


Croatia is my dream

and I intend to live it out

But I will always carry

a small amount of doubt


Maybe one day

my children will feel the same

That I took away a life

that was theirs to claim


Fickle is life

and how our stories unfold

No way of knowing

what our futures behold


But I thank you

for showing me

The courage it takes

to follow your destiny


Where you left off

I will carry on

Until we meet again

and admire our lives forgone.


R.I.P. Tata





This poem is written to my late father Branko Hrkac. I remember the mixed emotions that crossed my parents' faces when I told them of my plans to move to Croatia. I am sure there were some feelings of frustration because of the sacrifices they made to come to and provide us with a prosperous life in Canada. I wonder if they thought, we shed blood, sweat and tears to come here for a better life, and now our daughter is returning to where we left behind. I never wanted them to feel like all their efforts were for nothing, in fact, they set me up with the toolset to be able to make a courageous move.

As I was justifying my decision to my parents and explaining to them what it is we are in search of and the type of lifestyle we are after, it was as though I was reminding my father of his previous life and how distant it felt to him at that moment. My father took a deep drag of his cigarette, exhaled, and told me "If I could have afforded tickets for the 7 of us to return back then, I would taken us all back a long time ago", I knew in that moment that although my decision was a big pill to swallow, my feelings were understood.

I sometimes think about how it would feel if my own children approached me in adulthood and told me they wanted to move back to Canada. I think as parents we make the decision we think is best for our children, but the day eventually comes when we need to pass on the torch and empower them in their own decisions and journeys. I hope that they appreciate our sacrifices, as I appreciate the ones made by my parents before me. I hope that in sharing our story with our children they will have the courage to pursue their dreams in their lives also and to never look back.



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Branimir Hrkac
Branimir Hrkac
Nov 24, 2023

Absolutely beautiful

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