Home, by Warsan Shire (Somali Poet)
no one leaves home unlesshome is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the borderwhen you see the whole cityrunning as well.
your neighbors running fasterthan you, the boy you went to school withwho kissed you dizzy behindthe old tin factory isholding a gun bigger than his body,you only leave homewhen home won’t let you stay.
no one would leave home unless homechased you, fire under feet,hot blood in your belly.
it’s not something you ever thought aboutdoing, and so when you did -you carried the anthem under your breath,waiting until the airport toiletto tear up the passport and swallow,each mouthful of paper making it clear thatyou would not be going back.
you have to understand,no one puts their children in a boatunless the water is safer than the land.
who would choose to spend daysand nights in the stomach of a truckunless the miles travelledmeant something more than journey.
no one would choose to crawl under fences,be beaten until your shadow leaves you,raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom ofthe boat because you are darker, be sold,starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten,stripped and searched, find prison everywhereand if you survive and you are greeted on the other sidewith go home blacks, refugeesdirty immigrants, asylum seekerssucking our country dry of milk,dark, with their hands outsmell strange, savage -look what they’ve done to their own countries,what will they do to ours?
the dirty looks in the streetsofter than a limb torn off,the indignity of everyday lifemore tender than fourteen men wholook like your father, betweenyour legs, insults easier to swallowthan rubble, than your child’s bodyin pieces – for now, forget about prideyour survival is more important.
i want to go home, but home is the mouth of a sharkhome is the barrel of the gunand no one would leave homeunless home chased you to the shoreunless home tells you toleave what you could not behind,even if it was human.
no one leaves home until homeis a damp voice in your ear sayingleave, run now, i don’t know whati’ve become.