Beneath the Same Sun
I’ve written a fair few poems over the years, but I’ve never read one in public before. The thought of these things is often scarier than the reality, and I decided to submit a poem I wrote specially for Refugee Week following a call out for poetry and prose at a local Norwich venue. The venue was The Merchant’s House near the cathedral, a beautiful café replete with leafy plants, bookshelves, vintage lamps and an outside courtyard. This is also the venue where my writing group meets each month.
Initially, I thought I had nothing to share on this theme. After all, I am so hugely privileged. I have no idea what it is to be seeking asylum or to be caught up in the knotty bureaucracy of sorting out one’s immigration papers. I have never known war or had to make that terrible decision of leaving my homeland and family members to try to seek safety elsewhere. Millions of others have not been so lucky and, after listening to this beautiful song, Human Kindess by Carrie Tree, I realised I did have a few ideas I wanted to express. Alongside that, I tapped into the rage I feel around the government’s inhumane policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. So, here is Beneath the Same Sun, the poem I read last week on a warm evening in the courtyard, with money raised for Welcome Wheels, an initiative to support refugees and asylum seekers to my city with bicycles to help access services.
BENEATH THE SAME SUN
They call her a migrant,
they call her a thief,
but she once was a teacher
with hope, self-belief.
They call him refugee,
stamp the label on his head,
but he once was a father
putting children to bed.
They call her asylum seeker,
drown her in bureaucracy,
but she once owned a clothes store
then was forced across the seas.
They say why can’t you just go home,
go back from where you came,
but home is a pile of ashes,
and the village went up in flames.
They demonise and demean him,
say he’s taking locals’ jobs
plan to send him to Rwanda,
has their humanity been robbed?
They pass anti-refugee bills,
though he only longs to be safe,
but he’s terrified for his future here,
and he’s very fast losing faith.
Deportation threatened at every turn
there’s no security
for the family who’s suffered unspeakable loss
and may once again have to flee.
They are cruelly punishing victims,
asking how she came here, not why
have they stopped to dig inside their souls
before their pint and pie?
Shame on them sitting in Whitehall
passing anti-refugee laws,
what’s needed is calm, safe havens
but instead all we see are closed doors.
We are all so very connected
in the blink of an eye, shoes exchanged,
today war’s there, tomorrow it’s here
our fates and lives rearranged.
So let’s extend hands of compassion
we all live beneath the same sun
for kindness is needed and kindness is catching,
next year could be me on the run.
Thank you for reading this blog. Compliment it with reading my prize winning poem, Tripoli Dreaming which also deals with themes of migration and an open love letter to public libraries (in the form of a poem) that have nurtured and sustained me and helped me become the writer I am today.
Just read your poem “Beneath the same Sun”
This is a subject matter that really touches me
and you did an excellent job in this poem expressing the plight of all refugees.
I have forwarded it to some of my friends.
Thank you so much Roy, I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading my poem!