Today has been a beautiful warm and sunny spring day on this Greek island. It’s also been World Poetry Day. One of my favourite poets is Maya Angelou she wrote this poem in 1995 for the UN anniversary and in it gives us hope that humanity will find a way to live in peace with each other and the planet.
I have issues with the UN, the amount of money they make and how little they actually help those in need. This hope seems very much in need right now for all the refugees who are now facing the very real future of being returned to Turkey. For Turkey which has been bombed again this week by ISIS. For friends in Turkey who we hope are safe. For everyone caught up in this madness. I wonder where it will all lead?
I spent a wonderful day out shopping with my mother, this post was going to be about our day together and how lucky I feel to have the time to spend together. Then this evening I was reminded again through Facebook of the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help when governments failed. Volunteers who have now been removed from the refugee centres. Where police and guns now replace a hug and a warm smile. I wonder what those children must be thinking?
Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. This is the most powerful poem I’ve read about refugee life.
Home by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
The prompt for today was ‘This is new’ and this is one of our grape vines with its new spring growth. I hope that spring will bring fresh hope to Greece. It’s a beautiful country that’s had more than it’s fair share of hardship in recent years.
But the land keeps providing as this grapevine shows. There’s always plenty to go around and as people they are so generous with all that they have. Hopefully governments will allow them to continue to give to those that need it who land on their shores.
Something slightly different for today. Poetry has always made me think very deeply about the world around us and I used to love teaching it. Do you have a favourite poem?
I hope you’ve had a good day where ever you are in the world?