Nikki Bennett, Poet in Residence at Chester Cathedral, wrote the following poem in response to the exhibition staged at the Cathedral for Refugee Week.
(‘….no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land’ – Warsan Shire)
And so – a child launches itself, involuntarily,
into a scary, unnatural, premature, adult life.
He takes himself, no possessions, one thousand miles
across a desert, a sea, many countries.
She risks her life, her virginity, her moral code,
hangs onto strangers; scared, fragile, fighting.
They lose their families, except as photographs,
as brave examples of escape, persecution, death.
He clings, suspended below a lorry, atop a train,
no food, minimum water, maximum hope, faith.
She sets up home in ‘The Jungle’, making
opportunity out of plastic, cardboard, tents, containers.
They move on, bring their youth, their brains; a ‘lucky’ part
of two percent that land their feet on UK shores.
He learns freedom,acceptance,encouragement,
finds help, hope, law-keeping not law breaking.
She feels sensations of relaxing, calm, family,
They grow their strengths, materialise dreams of
being Einstein, Estefan, Kerr, Mercury, Saatchi.
They stand tall, they grow from safety and sanctuary,
and, as contributing adults, remind us strongly:
‘I am a human being, not just a refugee’.