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September 2015, Week 3

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September 18, 2015
By Warsan Shire
SeekersHub (September 2, 2015)

Warsan Shire, a Kenyan-born Somali poet based in London, addresses the terror and desperation of migrants forced to leave their homes seeking safety, shelter, hope even in strange and often inhospitable lands. Hers is a language of experience and insight, capturing the tension of the current crisis of uprooted people. .

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 travelled
	means something more than journey.
	no one crawls under fences
	no one wants to be beaten
	pitied

	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

	the
	go home blacks
	refugees
	dirty immigrants
	asylum seekers
	sucking our country dry
	niggers with their hands out
	they smell strange
	savage
	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.
	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
	drown
	save
	be hunger
	beg
	forget pride

	your survival is more important
	no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
	saying-
	leave,
	run away from me now
	i dont know what i’ve become
	but i know that anywhere
	is safer than here
Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. She is widely published in many languages, author of Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (2011), and poetry editor of Spook magazine. 
	 


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