On Leaving Home

What would you take if it were us? she asked.

I shook my head.


She was silent for a moment, watching the television.

There were adverts: for cars, for perfumes,

For garden furniture and super-sized burgers.

It all seems so petty, she said.

I nodded.


What would you take?


A handful of photographs, I suppose.

Our papers and bank cards.

Don’t forget the last of that bread.

And put on your warmest coat, a hat,

Your gloves and your boots.


Can I take this?


No, leave that. We’ve no room.

Maybe we’ll be back sometime.

Maybe as soon as next Spring.

If there’s anything left to return to, that is.

If there’s anyone here who would welcome us back.


Where have you come from?


I no longer remember the answer to that.

Possibly Sumy or Sana,

On the other hand, Aleppo, or Aden.

It might have been Myanmar,

Conceivably Kyiv or Kandahar.


Why should we allow you in? who are you?


Who am I? I might be your son,

Your daughter, your wife or your father.

One day, I might even be you.

And on that day, pray for a compassionate welcome,

Pray for the kindness of strangers.

30 thoughts on “On Leaving Home

  1. Oh, how heartbreaking, all the more so because it’s what’s happening out there in this awful, tragic war. This piece also resonates with me so much because I lost so many of my ancestors in the Holocaust. They had to leave Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Hungary during the second world war and many ended up in Auschwitz and consequently died there. There are big chunks missing in my family tree because of this. There are no photos to look back on either. It breaks my heart. War is so bloody awful, unnecessary and so many innocent lives lost. Why!? It’s all about power – Hitler, Putin, Mussolini … As Jimi Hendrix said, ‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace’. How true. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on such a difficult topic, Mick. Take care of yourself. Ellie X ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so awful, Ellie. To have that in your family history is so sad.

      Yes, it’s bloody awful and unnecessary, but sadly I can’t see humanity ever not going to war. Humans are no good at accepting any sort of compromise if it involves a real or imagined ‘loss of face’. And as you so rightly say, it’s all about power.

      Hope you’re okay, Ellie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But Mick, just taking the present case, considering that Russians are also suffering loss of life and limb, AND loved ones, War is not necessarily fought for imagined insults alone. What other step is there to stop an Aggressor? Should We give in and accept Slavery, AND hope that some Benign beings (Lincoln) or Regimes (Cyrus of Persia) would Release us? Slavery is No Joke!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely not, Swami. Although I abhor war I am not a pacifist because everyone has the right to defend themselves against aggression and also has a duty to defend others where necessary. Causing war is never right and is unforgivable.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. So poignant, and yet so familiar. Having had to evacuate for hurricanes multiple times, the “what to take?” and “what will be left to return to?” questions are all too familiar. The primary difference, of course, is that rebuilding after a storm, difficult as it is, is possible — and while running from the storm, no one is trying to kill you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Powerful, thought-provoking. More and more, seeing the pictures of people fleeing their homes with only a backpack or a paper sack, I come to realize how very lucky we are and how petty our own complaints are. “The damn bathroom light is out again!” … but the people in Ukraine largely have no electricity, no light, they are living in a world of darkness, both physical and emotional.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, our problems are all proportional, aren’t they? hence the saying ‘First World problems’. Those living lives of luxury can get irritated by having to make small decisions, the poor in the West struggle to be able to mend a leaky roof, but that’s still nothing in comparison with what war refugees face.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Jane Sturgeon

    Strong words, Mick, well penned. I have lived in a war zone as a teenager but we were fortunate to leave on a plane with suitcases. I can only imagine how these million of souls are feeling and what they are having to deal with. It is all so pointless and they are a peaceful nation. War is senseless.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Reblogging Mick’s Exquisite post | lovehappinessandpeace

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