The shadow of the bird cut across the face of the moon, semaphore wings sending messages for the leaving.
See this empty suitcase full of all things lost a leather-bound desertion of experience and cost. A metaphor of meaning held by a rusty lock looking for the leaving left beaten by the clock. A reinforced expression of all the corners turned a four- square application of all the lessons learned. A travelogue of memories in random order packed the beginnings and the endings left abandoned by the tracks.
See this empty suitcase tied with a tattered rope, a battered box of belonging, it holds Pandora’s coat.
The sea Gods slept on the night they left, even the seabed held its breath.
This little boat of dreams sails in a sea of green hope, tossed and turned by the changing currents. All are silent believing that silence can save them, as they bale their dreams back into the sea. Using their hands to push down despair, clawing at the surface with ragged fishbone faith. They drift.
This little boat taking these souls to a distant shore, where hope laps the sand and what’s left of their dreams puddle at their feet. Barefoot lost and adrift, they wait. Standing in the shadow of a bird cutting crescents on the sand.
The shoreline welcomed them with sharp sand clinging, shimmering seashells breaking in the reflection of the moon. The sea whispered soft goodbyes into their mid-night footsteps, as they followed the shadows looking for sanctuary in dark corners- dank sleeping bags-stolen moments.
The salt clung in white crust outlines on lips, on eyelashes, in dreams.
Wrapping themselves in hope, they looked to the land and waited for the wheels to turn.
One hundred souls on a trawler. Packed sardine-like in the hold instead of the usual catch, or skin-burned up on deck in the merciless drying sun. Just as, centuries before; Their ancestors, equally despairing, Taken against their will. Herded up, treated as non-human flesh, Crammed head-to-foot, deep, deep within other holds of other ships. How desperate must they be to risk this trip deliberately? They know they may not make it, yet still, they come, and come, and come… A place of safety their only desire. Men, women, children, babes in arms. All fleeing who knows what and going who knows where. First indication of a problem and the crew bail out in the four-man tender towed at the stern. The abandoned try to bale; save themselves, but sardines cannot move. Efforts futile, like their cries of fear. Fishing boat sinks, slowly merging with the ocean. A husband jumps into the sea – a sacrifice to save his wife and child. All know they’ll join him soon, Pray their end will not be hard. SOS heard but charity vessel too far away, Pleas for rescue. PLEASE bring them safely to your shores. They need your help. There’s no response.
You know that sinking feeling you get when your day comes over your boat and you can’t get the water out? Well, imagine it’s happening out at sea, and your boat is full of others with the same sinking feeling as you.
For the small things He clung to a moving rudder for 14 days, little sleep, sipping rain water
For the small things She hushed her child and sang him songs in the dark and cold of the container
For the small things He swam a whole sea, belongings strapped around his neck She sold her dignity, took nothing but a promise He clung to the underside of a lorry, lungs filling with fumes She woke in a hospital bed, not knowing how she got there He walked and walked, getting weaker and weaker She treated those who suffered, learning as she went He wept as he stepped over those who didn’t make it They held tight to a boat, held tighter to a dream
She did it for the small things To laugh with her friends on the school bus To walk down the road alone
He did it for the small things To hold the hand of the man he loves To have a say in who to date To date at all
Just for the small things To do the job she loves To choose their own name To share an opinion To sleep without fear
The blood of your feet soaks the roads of Europe. The tears of your mothers fill the seas you have crossed. Here to our town, between canal and river, cradled by hills, on the edge of the bay, you have come, from far away deserts, mountains and cities, from war and torture and hatred – only to find a life.
It’s not that I am unaware of your fear, as you stand looking out on the bay, but I want you to let the peace of the moonlit path on the darkening water console you. It’s not that I don’t see your pain, the hours of your sleepless nights, but as you walk the green paths by our river, I want you to know you are walking home.
It’s not that I don’t understand, It’s not that I cannot hear you, in spite of the wind and the rain. Your voice will be heard on our quiet streets, the darkness you come from find light under our soft grey skies.
We scrabble to our feet,
the skinny kid beside me
is clinging to his seat.
I grab his hand
and make him stand,
our bodies rocking on
a sea as black as death.
Men fight to leave the boat,
that’s barely now afloat.
We jump, I hold him still,
we make our way
across the bay,
the freezing water
laps my thigh.
I thought we’d die,
out on the raging
swell of sea.
The boy’s eyes
bright with fear,
I lose his hand
and feel the sand
beneath my feet.
We run like silent ghosts
afraid to cry.
The lapping waves
give way to caves,
we hide and press
our bodies to the rocks,
The well from which we’ve always drawn our water has run dry The house from which I stole the bread we needed to survive has been abandoned and the road down which my daughter walked to school’s no longer safe from men in uniforms who live by different rules.
The bus on which we tried to leave our home was stopped and burned And without an explanation we were ordered to return On foot while men in uniforms just laughed and cursed and spat And found the money we had hidden in our shoes and in our bags
So the clothes in which we walked away were all that we possessed The money we had stolen was all the money we had left For the journey that would take us from all we’d ever known To a country we imagined but could not imagine calling home
The phone on which I made the calls was borrowed from a stranger To a cousin who sent money to a man who would arrange “Everything, no problems, the papers, tickets, visas, yes.” If we did what we were told and made no more requests.
The coast from which we left that night had never had a name And no charts had ever been drawn up for the sea on which we sailed No Pole Star and no Southern Cross to navigate our course And the man who made the promises stayed standing on the shore.
The day on which the photograph was published round the world inquiries were demanded and, they say, donations doubled Points were raised in parliaments and heartfelt sorrows shared On Facebook and on Twitter good people showed they cared
The picture showed a summers day of sea and sun and sand And it showed a man in uniform not knowing quite how to stand By the body of a girl just lying on the beach And the name of my own daughter was written underneath.
The name of my own daughter mis-spelt and mis-aligned The picture was declared a fake and people said I Iied About the reasons we were leaving and the place we chose to go And what kind of man would venture with his daughter on A small boat On a big sea On a dark night Like a bad dream
He sells sanctuary on distant seashores Where rugged rocks drown the hopes of thousands more Safe passage to a promised land, he lies As he takes their life savings to save their lives Small boats filled with water and desperation A rising tide of human migration Someone please rescue the ragged rascals from those rugged rocks Be their promised nation
Aabish, Aisha, Afkar and Aflah went down to the beach to pray one day Aabish prayed to Allah for safe keeping Aisha couldn`t stop herself from weeping Afkar he lay with his lungs full of ocean and Aflah he had a certain notion
that, wherever they lived in tent or in tin in camp or in crevice in hostel or in bin Christian, Muslim Atheist and Jew
I saw a seagull flying high Heard the sirens cry As the mother placed the lifebelt on the child A silence for a moment As whispered prayer on trembling lips God still the waters for our journey Spirit guide us over the horizon To the land of safety We prayed that war would not come But it did We prayed for safety in our home Our house was destroyed We prayed to multiply our savings Our savings for the future Are with us in paper dollar bills Half now gone to the smuggler We prayed that You would guide Our children in education Schools are rubble and Teachers gone Now uncertain Hear our prayers Answer our prayers still the water Let not the jacket be used The darkness on the placid sea Soon swells Moon hides his face No stars to lead the way The waves splash and slowly fill The rubber boat the engine spluttering Mothers distracting their children Say all will be well God is with us He will answer our prayers All in the water Screams Fall silent a child no longer cries In the darkness a light too far dims We are refugees upon the seas The land no longer wants us The sea engulfs And now we are home
He is a trafficker. He trades people for cash. Sometimes it’s a bit of a dash, but he always ends up with a stash. One thousand five hundred euros for every man, woman or child makes sure he’s always got a smile. He doesn’t care where they have come from or where they are going it’s better for him not knowing. He packs them into a boat they can’t roam like mountain goats he milks them for their bank notes. Some of his vessels are not seaworthy for such a perilous journey but he is not bothered if they make it or not. He has heard that some have drowned but that doesn’t cause him to frown there will always be more waiting to cross his palm and he will tell them, don’t worry,