May 28 “Renewed Commitment of the Jesuit Refugee Service”

Tuesday,  May 28  JRS  — “Home”  Warsan Shire

Thinking, on Memorial Day, about tomorrow’s post on May 28;  my remembering killed and maimed soldiers and honoring their sufferings intersected with reading a world wide letter from the Superior General of us Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, sj.   The letter came out recently and is titled  “Renewed Commitment of the Jesuit Refugee Service.”

One of our great saints and heroes, General Superior Pedro Arrupe (1907 – 1991), wrote the Jesuits across the world in 1980 calling us to give our hearts and our attention and our resources to the global crisis of homeless refugees.  (n.b., Last year “68.5 million people walk the ways of the world after being forced from their homes.”)   This is another call to honor the victims of war on this Memorial Day.

Best to read Warsan Shire’s stark “Home” out loud, with pauses.  We’ve posted “Home” several times before;  like many strong poems, it bears re-reading.

Have a blest week.


john sj

Today’s Post: – Warsan Shire, “Home”

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 neighbours running faster

than you, 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 would leave home unless home chased you, fire under feet,

hot blood in your belly.

it’s not something you ever thought about doing, and so when you did –

you carried the anthem under your breath, waiting until the airport toilet

to tear up the passport and swallow,

each mouthful of paper making it clear that you would not be going back.

you have to understand,

no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

who would choose to spend days

and nights in the stomach of a truck

unless the miles traveled

meant something more than journey.

no one would choose to crawl under fences,

be beaten until your shadow leaves you,

raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom of

the boat because you are darker, be sold,

starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,

be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,

make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten,

stripped and searched, find prison everywhere

and if you survive and you are greeted on the other side

with go home blacks, refugees

dirty immigrants, asylum seekers

sucking our country dry of milk,

dark, with their hands out

smell strange, savage –

look what they’ve done to their own countries,

what will they do to ours?

the dirty looks in the street

softer than a limb torn off,

the indignity of everyday life

more tender than fourteen men who

look like your father, between

your legs, easier to swallow

than rubble, than your child’s body

in pieces – for now, forget about pride

your survival is more important.

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 tells you to

leave what you could not behind, even if it was human.

no one leaves home until home

is a damp voice in your ear saying

leave, run now, i don’t know what

i’ve become.

Warsan Shire b. 1 August 1988

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