No Borders

Sam Donaldson is a Quaker who lives in Hull and was part of the CTBI delegation that visited Mediterranean Hope refugee projects in Lampedusa and Sicily in April 2017. This poem is his response to a conversation across a table with a young woman who had recently arrived in Italy.

Across this table
lies the great divide.
Waited on by angels, I fly
that down there in the dark
she lies, crammed beneath the deck,
coughing on fumes, gasping for air,
her demons,
kidnap, rape, forced prostitution,
company on this bitter journey
through hell itself.
Across this table
I begin to wake up
to this great divide.
All I’ve known,
privilege, comfort, security,
she has never known.
Sitting only a table width apart,
still she cannot cross this divide,
for I was born white, British,
and she was not.
This shameful State does its worst
through bureaucratic checks,
detention centres (prison yards)
and deportation flights,
keeping the likes of her
a million miles away
from the likes of me.
Across this table
lies the great divide.

The illustration Lampedusa – Nella Stiva (Lampedusa – In the Hold) is one of many drawn by Francesco Piobbichi, who was born in Umbertide, Perugia and is currently a social worker for Mediterranean Hope, a project run by the Federation of Protestant Churches (FCEI) in Italy. His drawings aim to raise funds to finance emergency support for migrants arriving at the Favaloro Pier in Lampedusa and to establish a scholarship for students of Lampedusa.