Last year, on the road to Rome I reflected on my fellow-men, women and children on the move across Europe, not on a personal journey, but in search of safety, freedom, or a better life. Yesterday in the London library I came across a collection of poems by the Jamaican poet James Berry, who landed in England in 1948. Unable to secure a passage on the Windrush, Berry sailed on the next boat, the SS Orbita. His poem ‘Migrant in London’ captures the mixture of hope and fear of the newly arrived. Here are the last two verses:
I stan’ in the roar man,
In a dream of wheels
I feel how wheels hurry in wheels.
I whisper, man you mek it.
Then sudden like, quite loud I say,
‘Then where you goin’ sleep tonight?’