Rate this poem:(4.50 / 2 votes)

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT HOME (AT THE DEPORTATION CENTRE)



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. I’ve been carrying the old anthem in my mouth for so long that there’s no space for another song, another tongue or another language. I know a shame that shrouds, totally engulfs. I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can’t afford to forget.

*


They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? 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 thought the sea was safer than the land. I want to make love but my hair smells of war and running and running. I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you’re young and asleep. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on my 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. I am the sin of memory and the absence of memory. I watch the news and my mouth becomes a sink full of blood. The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officer, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English classes at night, the distance I am from home. 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 and 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.

About this poem

This poem is part of Shire's collection ' teaching my mother how to give birth' (2013)

Font size:
 

Written on 2013

Submitted by abielias1 on March 10, 2022

2:51 min read
61 Views

Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a British writer, poet, editor and teacher, who was born to Somali parents in Kenya. In 2013 she was awarded the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize. more…

All Warsan Shire poems | Warsan Shire Books

(2 fans)

Discuss this Warsan Shire poem with the community:

2 Comments
  • Whereisiverson
    Wow. I'm taken away her work is absolutely beautiful, I read this with my mouth open as the imagery described every detail.
    LikeReplyReport7 months ago
  • Symmetry58
    Astounding piece of writing. I said ASTOUNDING. I have read a handful of poets in my life that compel me to not turn away because there was a plight worthy of all my attention had to offer. This meets that criteria and then some. When writing makes you feel as deeply as if you'd lived the experience yourself, then you've found home.


    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, for allowing me the privilege of living inside your world for a brief span. Gorgeous writing.
     
    LikeReplyReport8 months ago
    • abielias1
      This is not my own work unfortunately! It was written by Warsan Shire in her collection 'teaching my mother to give birth'. I highly recommend it!
      LikeReplyReport8 months ago
    • Symmetry58
      Yes, I deduced it wasn't yours after having read Rex's work. And why, pray tell, does the young lady not write???
      LikeReplyReport8 months ago

Translation

Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Citation

Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"CONVERSATIONS ABOUT HOME (AT THE DEPORTATION CENTRE)" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 3 Dec. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/122274/conversations-about-home-%28at-the-deportation-centre%29>.

Become a member!

Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

December 2022

Poetry Contest

Enter our monthly contest for the chance to win cash prizes and gain recognition for your talent.
28
days
13
hours
26
minutes

Browse Poetry.com

Quiz

Are you a poetry master?

»
A haiku has ________ lines.
  • A. 5
  • B. 4
  • C. 3
  • D. 2