«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 neighbours running faster than you,
your 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’not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into your neck
and even then you carry the anthem under your breath,
only tearing up your passport in airport toilets,
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you would not be going back.
You have to understand,
no one would put their children in a boat
unless the sea is safer than the land.
No one burns their palms
No one spends days and nights in the gall bladder of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
mean something more than journey.
No one crawls under fences,
wants to be beaten, wants to be pitied.
No one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching,
because prison is safer than a city of fire,
and one prison guardin the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father.
No one could take it.
Could stomach it.
No one’s skin would be tough enough.»
– Warsan Shire,
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth