I was told that water has memory. I can believe it. I think of how a drop – the cold moisture of a cloud, somewhere a continent away – might precipitate itself upon an azure sea. That it might get pulled this way and that, become submerged, forgotten, embroiled in the waves and the churn of marine life; that it might be lifted and fall again, that it might enter rivers, cross countries; that it might finally be taken along by a tide, that it might beach itself on closer shores, that it might pour from our taps, with its memory intact.
It is boat season and migrating humans attempt more perilous journeys across the Mediterranean. Europe is a dream but not always a destiny. Paper-sketched holding centres are a plan for refugees: some sand-blown pop-ups in north Africa and the Middle East – not a solution, just a siesta for peace. News from the front line is of a colossal catastrophe. Humanitarianism becomes hubris in the mouths of the powerful. Razor-wire fences don’t stop the desperate. Riot police have bulldozed camps in Calais. There is nowhere to go. In London, I hear the sound of duelling koras seeking harmony in the night.
A decade’s unreported anarchy brings blood and dust, charted in numberless rusted cells where violence tells and torture proves.
They flee across the desert by truck, in the hands and debt of gangs, to make border disappearances.
In Libya and Yemen the smuggled bodies pay for thieved papers with degraded favours. Honours are all lost.
In the sea is the promise of every era’s castaways: souls strewn on the dark silent waves, squinting for island havens.
A small craft is a black dot in the indigo deep, the sun only a fire, a boat just another raft for the medusa.