Exile is an Unhealing Wound


Meditating on the unhealing wound of exile and, again, I return to this heart-rending poem by Kenyan-born, Somali poet, Warsan Shire which I read here & include the words, below.

It's savage art meant to cut to the heart of our indifference, to break us open into compassion.

If this poem does not soften hardened hearts regarding the refugee crisis, I don't know what will.

No One Leaves Home...

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
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
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
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled
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
or prison,
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
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
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
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
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
be hunger
forget pride
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

Comments 11

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31.12.2019 03:01

Wow... And i mean that in the most soft-hearted tone.I am resteeming. Thank you so much for sharing

31.12.2019 03:25

It’s a remarkable piece and, to my mind, conveys what the news cannot...

Grateful it resonates and thank you, for sharing 🙏🏼

31.12.2019 03:38

It's been over a day since I read this and my soul is still stirring..

01.01.2020 08:26

It's been over a
Day since I read this and my
Soul is still stirring..

                 - audiefaith

I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

01.01.2020 08:27

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31.12.2019 04:26

This was nice...Thanks for sharing. You have a pleasing to the ear reading voice. Just saying...

31.12.2019 09:49

I’m grateful for your attention, friend, and that you feel I did this difficult poem some justice. 🙏🏼

31.12.2019 13:47

You're welcome.

31.12.2019 22:26

Wow, indeed.

I've seen some tough times, as most of us have, but nothing even remotely akin to what this poet has embodied.

This is among the most visceral and powerful poems I've ever read. I cannot even imagine what she must have gone through, and seen imposed on others.

Thank you for sharing this.

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31.12.2019 10:37

It is a shocking piece and forces us to consider the unfathomable suffering of Others... so that it remains emblazoned on our minds/hearts.

Thank you, for reading/feeling it 🙏🏼

31.12.2019 13:51