Refugees - Texts written at the Ty Newydd Writing Centre, March 2016

Texts written at the Ty Newydd Writing Centre, Llanystumdwy, Cricieth, Gwynedd, 17.3.16.

Authors: Sarah Blake, Emma Ormond, Kaye Lee, Yuko Adams, Camilla Lambert, Jennie Bailey, Barry 

Tutor: Robert Minhinnick

I don’t know where we lost her. She isn’t here. That is all I know. Maybe it happened right at the start. I don’t remember how. I carry on conversations with her in my head. I don’t mean to. Thoughts slip into her. Mud on my boots. Numb hands. I talk to her every day here. I remember her hand holding mine inside her coat pocket on the way to school. I remember sitting at her feet, watching her draw. Her hands have oval nails and there are plump lines in her palms. How soft she was. I remember the face cream trace she left in the air and how she always burned the onions. Never had the patience to let them sweat slowly, turn sweet and yielding in the pan.

My jumper is made of links,

rough and bubbled, sutures

of thin thread that cannot

close the wounds underneath

which are only superficial on the surface on the surface

buried in it my nose unearths

dirt, sweat. Hope, petrol and apples,

the taste of cold stone and vinegar

as I are them,

the wool creaks, stiff from its journey,

shedding grit and dirt,

remnants carried with me from home.

I will never let it be washed.

These trousers would steam

if I ever found somewhere warm.

They still have the salty grit

of two days on a boat

and tonight I’ll keep them on

when we lie down under the sheets

of plastic, our make-do home.

I can’t pray anymore, my head and my heart are sodden, too many uncried tears, saltier than

Aisha’s sea-wet jacket – the jacket

that her granny wrapped round

her shoulders as we climbed into the truck.

I wish I could sleep – a few hours -

to dream we’re back home,

to forget the razor wire

that tears us to shreds

if we try to move on.

I come across a rose

That is standing in a front garden

On my way to nowhere.

I sniff and smell the scent

but it is too meagre

as I cannot step in.

In the next town I arrive

I may find another rose

but I don’t think I can smell it.

It’s somebody else’s rose

growing from somebody else’s soil

I cannot grasp.

Mehemet has woken up crying

like last night and the one before.

His head is hot like a burnt potato.

At home we’d fetch the pink medicine

from the bathroom cupboard, tuck the quilt

my mother made, scraps of red and brown

from her mother’s village, soothe him.

He’d be better in the morning.

Here, no medicine, once we’d used up

the stuff they gave us near the fence,

no quilt, just a pile of all our clothes,

smelling of mud, a musty, cheesy smell.

I am lying on my side again, I feel

In my pocket for the crooked house key:

It fits my fingers like it always did.

It’s getting light, earlier now, invading

through the cracks in the tent,

won’t be kept out, allow one more hour

of not remembering. The others

are moving about, a few curses from

those Aleppo people, different consonants,

same whine in the nostrils.

It’s raining again.

My heart still beats fast. I have just woken up, but remain curled up under my old army greatcoat on what I think is a slate floor. The cold slate causes me to roll over on to my other hip. I cannot feel my left shoulder, but hopefully it will get better circulation now I have moved.

I can hear the clatter of cattle hooves, this could be a farm. I wonder if I should look for a drink of water, or risk seeking out someone to help me.

I have counted

  red ants that slip into my sleeping bag.

I have counted

  stars in a snowglobe sky.

I have counted

  degrees downward to freezing.


This evening I saw

  children clustered in feathered clothes around fires.

This evening I saw

  blood sunset over the Jungle.

This evening I saw

  shield beetle man beat women with black batons.


In the morning

   perhaps swallow blue ribbons instead of black flags.

In the morning

   perhaps a weak sun will waken wings.