No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark
No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark
By Abby Zimet /

A broken Abdullah Kurdi buried his two toddlers and his wife in their hometown of Kobani, Syria even as thousands of his fellow refugees continued on their harrowing quest for safety - marching hundreds of miles from Hungary to Austria and Germany, eventually helped along by buses provided by Hungary; breaking out of camps where they charged they were mistreated; barricading themselves on "Freedom Trains" grounded at the station. Some sprayed shaving cream messages on the sides of trains -  "No Camps. No Hungary. Freedom" - while many wrote and held high their plaintive signs: "Help, Europe...We Want Germany...S.O.S....Here Big Guantanamo...Where Is the World?" The first refugees have now begun reaching Austria and Germany after officials there opened borders.

Kurdi, meanwhile, broke down at a Turkish morgue after claiming the bodies of hisdrowned family - his wife Rehan, five-year-old son Galip, and three-year-old son Aylan, whose small body washed ashore became the image that for many made a formerly abstract refugee crisis suddenly, grimly real. Having left their battered hometown in hopes of reaching Greece and ultimately Canada, Kurdi said, “Now I don’t want anything. Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them... My kids were the most beautiful children in the world. They are all gone now...We want the whole world to see this. Let this be the last."

For now, the catastrophe goes on. There are ways to help - see herehere, herehere, here,here.

There is, too, a need to understand - that "no one would leave home/unless home chased you to the shore," that "no one puts their children in a boat/unless the water is safer than the land," that all of this happens when "home is the barrel of the gun." From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

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 neighbors running faster than you
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’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Aylan and Galip
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No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark