We have laughed before
On the morning when we were born.
I was not there but they told me I laughed.
With careless glee, taking all the world in my gums.
And these ones
I heard them laugh
That early morning when the midwife brought them here
Telling tales of shot mamas and arrested papas
Certainly never to return.
I did not see them but I heard them laugh
Laugh at the world, laugh at all our world
Which would not laugh back.
Why do you ask us to laugh now
Here, at the brink of this water
Coming and going, calling us?
Why do you ask us to laugh
With a burnt village behind us
And drowned brothers before us,
On our way to Lampedusa?
What is humorous about paddling over the place
Where your brother’s carcass lies
Grinning up above at you
On your way to freedom,
And Lampedusa, death.
Wherein is the humour of overtaking your brother?
We sail away, our heads full of dreams
Dreams that come to us only by daylight
For where we stand,
We cannot sleep at night
And try as we do,
We have forgotten how to laugh.
24th October 2013 – For the 350, maybe more, who perished on their way to freedom.
I wrote this poem to remember Africans who died earlier this month off the coast of Lampedusa while fleeing difficult conditions in their homes. All they wanted was a better life.