My blogging focuses on sensitivity at work and beyond, including mental, emotional, financial and more. Whilst ‘sensitivity’ can include a wide range of experiences, including, health symptoms, they commonly include experiences of vulnerability, anxiety and isolation.
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night flung open
Nibbled door, class underway,
his coat hanging on the wall
room of last week
starts to read.
Write about someone who thinks that they are something that they are not:-
A river’s word,
we are gathered here,
ring of fates, dashed on rocks,
we try again, make it real,
homeless on the steps outside,
take her cup, fill it up,
hold it for the class,
for drunken moment, rise,
cast into the gutter in the night.
The wind howls,
there is singing.
Write about someone interacting with that person:-
The people who didn’t come back,
lost in the gaps,
gone to the Amazon, to Islington, to life,
riding the waves, talking to friends,
they who do not see the racket
walk by the ocean
have nothing to hide.
Our age of science and freedom
and depression; counselling
stopped by silence and not existing
showing must be telling,
the past an ebbing and flowing
imprisoned in the head.
Questions unlock selves
where no strength is left.
An invitation to collect your thought
from scattering heights.
‘He loves me, I know he does. He has his own way of showing me how much…’
‘It was that waster boy from next door.’
She had heard his low voice from downstairs, between her husband’s. He would always cheerfully say hello when she was gardening in the front yard. Tall and bulky, you could not miss him swaying down the road and sometimes, when he stopped to talk, she smelt the alcohol in his breath and saw it in his eyes. An alcoholic, his mother had said, eyes welling as they stood over the fence with the sprawling jasmine plant.
‘How are you feeling?’ her husband said, standing by the bed.
‘If it was broken, it would hurt much more,’ he repeated once again. ‘It’d be unbearable – here, have some more.’
She wriggled to sit up on the bed and took the plate from him. He came closer and examined her face.
She was grateful for something to do and began to eat slowly. She felt light, as if she could never feel pain again. All was silence save the scraping on the plate. Her husband stayed with her.
‘The baby wasn’t hurt,’ she thought, feeling her stomach under the duvet. ‘Thank you, God. Thank you, God.’
Her husband sat in a chair nearby. He gritted his teeth but he too felt light. The baby was safe and he cared for his wife. Beneath the bottled rage, he was a good man. And, he was not afraid of her – he was sitting looking at her, head bowed, eating.
She held out the half-finished plate. As she wriggled back under the duvet, he had a notion. If he was not afraid, he could touch her. He stood over with his face held together.
‘Can you feel him?’ he asked.
It came out gruff.
‘Let me feel him.’
She lifted up the duvet and felt his hand on her abdomen. He was touching her and started to smile.
‘Is he kicking?’
She shook her head, closing her eyes to be alone with her joy.
This short collection of poems by Miranda Sealy explores the viewpoint of refugees. The crises in the Middle East and North Africa have added to those of Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Central America and elsewhere to create a huge humanitarian crisis for the world.
The developed world has played a crucial role in creating this crisis and is now refusing to meet the full extent of its responsibility. Turkey estimates that it has taken 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom have fled Syria. Lebanon has some 1.5 million Syrian refugees – making up a third of its population. Meanwhile, David Cameron has pledged to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees into the UK over the next five years.
The EU and Turkey agreed a £2.3 billion deal to stop refugees entering the EU from Turkey. It is clear, however, that Turkey cannot cope with their influx. Mass drownings continue to occur – in the latest, 25 people are reported to have drowned off the coast of Turkey trying to make it to Greece. In just the first month of the year, 54, 518 have arrived in Europe by sea and 236 died or went missing, according to the UN.
Never has it been more important to support asylum seekers and refugees. Sealy seeks to give voice to their perspective in her poems. Some are despairing, others defiant or accusing. The most powerful, for me, are those in which the writer clearly separates the voices of poet and protagonist.
There is variety in perspective, style and tone of the poems. In Refugee, the narrator is descriptive:
“I walk the earth with measured tread
Surrounded, yet alone
Fate cast by ancestors long ago
In blood…dribbled on stone.”
I Flirt, meanwhile, relies on just one word, ‘flirt,’ to capture the nature of the refugee’s relations with her new society.
The two approaches give voice to the efforts and the despair of a refugee in a new country living as an outsider. In Human Rights a sufferer angrily accuses the world: ‘You have no more right than I/to live or even die.”
Sealy’s own accusation is expressed in We Do Not Name the Dead:
“I do not know them
You do not know them
Their presence on this earth went unchecked”
My Soul Lives Beyond Me explores more closely what it means to be an outsider. The narrator is in a relationship with someone who has “traveled and traveled and traveled the world.” The narrator says of her partner:
“There are meadows and valleys, there are rivers and grass. I see music and laughter and mysteries unfold. But where does it come from? My soul is too old.”
The difficulties experienced, however, can bring wisdom and hope. A World in a Grain of Sand reads:
“The dreams that just keep rumbling
Ripples on the surface of the deep,
Green shrubs blossoming, taking purchase in the loaming sand
This picture says: ‘I was, I wished, I will be and I am.”
In what is my favourite poem from the collection, Fight Injustice, Sealy gives voice to someone who has survived.
“Smile when you angry and shout when you calm
Learn to think with heart and feel with head
I will fight injustice til I dead
Ah gine fight injustice til ah dead.”
Refugee: A Tribute in Poetry is a thought-provoking and compassionate collection with some outstanding poems.