Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The road from Damascus

Many poets, and others, have been moved to write by the refugee crisis that is currently affecting many hundreds of thousands of people. This poem of mine was one among many on the online anthology set up by Marie Lightman – Writers for Calais refugees. Many of the refugees in Calais are aware of this site (and others).

The road from Damascus

He still has the key to his house,
safe in his pocket,
but there is no house now –
and his key will fit no other door
in the world.

He walks away from the dust of his home,
and the wreck of his family
and he walks,
one step at a time,
one festering foot in front of the other,
hope a distant memory,
despair a constant companion,
determination his friend,
he walks,
mile on mile,
one way,
hour after hour,
day on day,
pain on pain,
he has to keep walking,

away from his wife,
from his children,
he has to walk
to give them hope,
ignore the pain,
step on step,
stones and rocks,
hurt on hurt
smarting sores,
throbbing head,
freezing in mountains,
soaking in thunderstorms,
thirsting in desert heat,
dodging gangs, wolves in forests,
across hidden borders,
one one one,
step step step
just one man,
one father,
one husband,
one step
at a time
one way
on and on,
miles to go,
day on day,

if he can find food,
yes, water, please,
somewhere to sleep,
if he can sleep,
if he can keep walking.

Every step a small death,
every one a possible future,
on and on,
one, one, one
step, step, step,
pain on pain,
falling, get up again.
Keep walking –
into the tunnel.
On. On. On.

And then, he has to walk again,
all the way
back to where he came.

by Marie Lightman