The Backside of the Moon

They travel. With ingrate boots upon their feet, a stick in hand, a baby wrapped in cotton and another left behind, they travel. Packed in beside the shopkeeper that forever gave you flour on tick, you lay your jacket upon the trailer’s hard floor and he sits, the smile he gave always as the shop door rang absent you hope just for now. They needed to go. Why wait for the dust to settle to know that home can only be a memory, and at best a hope. I look at the backside of the moon and it’s just about bright enough to know that you seen it too, a luminous way upon the waves to the centre of the Earth.

The moon has been shrouded with clouds tonight as you, my neighbour, shroud your eldest that wanted to play for Liverpool in linen you brought, aware from the very first step of the potential for its need. You will not carry him anymore, but wrap him in your mother’s shawl, that old stubborn mule, you thought, that would not leave her husband’s grave unadorned. Her little traditions of arranging flowers, before photographing them and showing them to the chattering women before deciding which was the best to lay on her husband’s dry clay. You drop him, buried in the linen of love, into the pathway that the moon has set and he floats. For you know the price of sickness in a barge so small, and they hold you, his father, my neighbour, and you watch him float in the sea at the centre of the earth and cry to the moon.

When you reach the shore, exhausted, they come and shuttle you to a disused hospital, and hand out bottles of water and unadorned bread and you look at them and don’t know how to say thanks. Ashamedly looking at the ground, you see the reflection of the moon and whisper ‘Sahar’. For you buried your son in its light. Company in your flight, and the effervescence of home a solid mass in the sky.

Is it amnesty you seek here, or will that be what we require you to seek, to fit into the idealism at the centre of the earth. Europe that knows the solidarity of the centre, will tell you who you are in this new world like it has told others on the periphery what they are. You may have to listen, but don’t forget. With you we can all make a home here.

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