Ian Whiteley

The Song Of The Wandering

In darkness deeper than the mine
where, once, I scraped my fingers to the bone
a silver seam of moonlight
breaks across the boiling blackness
and I let those self same fingers
idly trail in the cold Mediterranean.
I dream of the golden sunlight
left behind in the dust, distress and bullets.

That was then and this is now.
The churning sea, the angry orders
snapped at us in foreign tongues.
The smell of fear permeates this shanty-boat.
I drowse and dream of figs and apples,
sweetness quenching the arid desert mouth
of this poor orphan cast adrift
upon a ship of dreams.

Like fish in open boxes we lie back to back,
tightly packed Into the wooden crate
that bears its cargo to the free world
where, they promise, we will be safe.
We sing ancestral hymns,
learned from nuns in schools under African skies,
who all lay dead beneath
the soldiers boots.

Songs of the wandering.
The crossing of oceans –
first Saharan, then the tides.
Buying a future that cannot be foretold
even though they call these vessels ‘Zodiacs’.
Counterpoint rhythms of futile calls to God
to save us from this undulating hell
and lead us to redemption.

A creak…
a groan…
wetness rushes
into the mass…
we move…
it rolls
and all
is lost…

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