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Poetry, Quotes

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
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

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

and if you survive
you are greeted on the other side with
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
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
drown
save
be hungry
beg
for now forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying
leave
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Taken from Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

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