The unbearable deaths of thousands in the deep

And yet these unbearable deaths are borne by those who turn away.  As I am left mute with horror, I shall post these poems which I think speak to the deaths of so many in this watery graveyard:

from Salt
By Nayyirah Waheed

you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.

– immigrant

Look We Have Coming to Dover
By Daljit Nagra

‘So various, so beautiful, so new…’
– Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’

Stowed in the sea to invade
the lash alfresco of a diesel-breeze
ratcheting speed into the tide, with brunt
gobfuls of surf phlegmed by cushy come-and-go
tourists prow’d on the cruisers, lording the ministered waves.

Seagull and shoal life
Vexin their blarnies upon our huddled
camouflage past the vast crumble of scummed
cliffs, scramming on mulch as thunder unbladders
yobbish rain and wind on our escape, hutched in a Bedford van.

Seasons or years we reap
inland, unclocked by the national eye
or stab in the back, teemed for breathing
sweeps of grass through the whistling asthma of parks,
burdened, ennobled, poling sparks across pylon and pylon.

Swarms of us, grafting in
the black within shot of the moon’s
spotlight, banking on the miracle of sun –
span its rainbow, passport us to life. Only then
can it be human to hoick ourselves, bare-faced for the clear.

Imagine my love and I,
our sundry others, Blair’d in the cash
of our beeswax’d cars, our crash clothes, free,
we raise our charged glasses over unparasol’d tables
East, babbling our lingoes, flecked by the chalk of Britannia!

This entry was posted in empire, literature, shipping conditions, the sea. Bookmark the permalink.

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