A Facebook friend and fellow first mother shared this today.  I found it incredibly powerful, tremendously so. It moved me to tears.  I can relate to the feelings from my own perspective. I left home, was forced to leave home, dreamed of returning yet hated it at the same time. I found solace in the arms of people who used and abused me. Worst of all, I gave my first born child away to strangers.  Was I saving her? Saving me?  Gosh. I cannot even write as this just chokes me up.

Oh so much more to relate to.   It is incredible.

“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
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

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.
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
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

4 Thoughts.

  1. That is amazing. I cannot watch the pictures on TV without crying. I hope if she hasn’t already that she sends it somewhere – like to The New Yorker. It should be read by many people.

    • She is London’s Young Poet Laureate. It is not new (just new to me). Google her. She has some serious skills. Been devouring her stuff. Warsan Shire.

  2. Thanks for this searing beautiful poem. It does not remind me of adoption, but of immigration, my grandparents who all left their homes fleeing war, poverty, and lack of hope. They would not have left behind their parents and country never to see them again if conditions there were not dire. The situation for those fleeing their countries today, like this poet, are even worse, and the doors slammed in their face by wealthier countries are a shame and crime. This poem and the voices of all the disposessed need to be heard every where and responded to with compassion, not condemnation.

    • Agree completely Maryanne (on the ancestors). While the immediate feel for me was related to my leaving my home due to my pregnancy, it also reminded me of my Polish ancestors (father, grandmother, etc) forced to leave WWII Poland to save themselves. Warsan is an incredibly gifted poet. I have been devouring her work.

Comments are closed.