My little niece is nearly three
we took her to the science museum recently.
Driving down Exhibition Road
daises and grass freshly mown
leak in through the car windows.
In the backseat my niece tells me
she liked the way the moon felt beneath her feet.
That evening when we tucked her
beneath her rainbow sheets
I knew she could become anything she wanted to be.
We wake up
not from the birds nor the sunrise
but from artillery shells tearing the sky.
When once it was blue
and hawks used to fly,
we now cover our ears
and cover our eyes.
We can’t stay here.
The boat is a half-sewn patch
on the ocean’s quilt.
We are unpicked thread,
worn out skin and raw eyes –
fear is a solid – I think we could die here.
The water is a jaw cranked open
it will certainly devour us
dear God, that must be there,
why have your forsaken us?
There is blood on the tide
and blood on the moon,
close your eyes my little one
we will be safe soon.
A new day: it is rainy and cold
a wind-whipped Calais camp,
gas lamps, muddy trainers and razor wire cuts:
this is all we have.
And this is all we had:
back home where our kids played with IEDs
as if they were rattles,
ball bearings and shrapnel,
burns and blindness.
We came here for survival
we prayed for kindness,
we are refugees
and you, here, can be anything you want to be.
Sunday: my little niece tries to catch her shadow
in the museum corridors,
asks for ice cream,
crawls beneath the tables on all fours
she smiles, she laughs.
We come to stop at a display,
maps and graphs
a half-spinning globe,
the land where the sun rises is covered in shadows.
It’s dark there she says, they must be sleeping.
Peeping over the glass
she touches one finger on the earth,
I wonder if she can feel a pulse.
We drive home;
it is one of those springtime evenings
where the last of the light
hangs just above the trees,
crepuscular coving leaves leaves
bathed in blue and sickle-moon silver –
and the moon is cratered with black blood,
waiting for morning to heal her.