The 20th of June every year is set aside to celebrate the world Refugee day. In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, it is only just and right to show some support and solidarity with refugees all over the world. Many may not understand the plight of refugees, but in the words of Warsan Shire the poet “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.
We challenge everyone today to take a moment to reflect on the real struggles and plight of refugees all over the world by reading the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire which captures the life of refugees living all over the world. Join the Migrant community here.
After reading this poem, kindly share your thoughts and experiences with us and others in the comment section in any way it has touched you. Happy reading!
Home, by Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet)
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,
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 would leave home unless home
Chased you, fire under feet,
Hot blood in your belly.
It’s not something you ever thought about doing,
And so when you did –
You carried the anthem under your breath,
Waiting until the airport toilet
To tear up the passport and swallow,
Each mouthful of paper making it clear that
You would not be going back.
You have to understand,
No one puts their children in a boat
Unless the water is safer than the land.
Who would choose to spend
Days and nights in the stomach of a truck
Unless the miles travelled meant 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 of the 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 everywhere and if you survive and
you are greeted on the other side with go home blacks,
refugees dirty immigrants,
asylum seekers sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out smell strange,
savage – look what they’ve done to their own countries,
what will they do to ours?
The dirty looks in the street softer than a limb torn off,
the indignity of everyday life
more tender than fourteen men who look like your father,
between your legs, insults easier to swallow than rubble,
than your child’s body in pieces – for now,
forget about pride your survival is more important.
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 tells you to leave what you could not behind,
even if it was human.
no one leaves home until home is a damp voice in your ear
saying leave, run now, I don’t know what I’ve become.
Warsan Shire is Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. Warsan is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 Inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
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