All of my children are in the water
"Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God,
do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past
the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When
I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No
one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.
The Libyan desert red with
immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket. I hope the journey
meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. (...) I want to make love, but my hair smells of war and running and running.
Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the
colour of hot sun on the face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights
in the stomach of the truck; I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else
is wearing my body.
I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is
disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the
shame of not belonging, my body is longing (...) The lines, the forms, the
people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officer, the looks on the street (...) But
Alhamdulilah all of this is better than the scent of a woman completely on fire, or a truckload of
men who look like my father, pulling out my teeth and nails, or fourteen men between my legs,
or a gun, or a promise, or a lie, or his name, or his manhood in my mouth.
I hear them say go home, I hear them say fucking immigrants, fucking refugees. Are they really
this arrogant? Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body
one second; the next you are a tremor lying on the floor covered in rubble and old currency
waiting for its return. All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful
placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I’ll
see you on the other side."
Conversations About Home (at the Deportation Centre), Warsan Shire