Peeling memories away
layers of lives left littered
one packed suitcase
Back across the sea
buildings without occupancy
echoes through rooms
call them back home
Here they are
far from the familiar
family table and
some are missing
© Ali Grimshaw 2020
dVerse Quadrille #98
This poem was inspired by this article. Interview: Artists Rebuild Refugees’ Emotional Memories of “Home” Inside Suitcases By Jessica Stewart
“Working together with writer Ahmed Badr, architect and sculpture artist Mohamad Hafez listened to the stories of refugee families living in America and helped shine a light on their experiences. As two former refugees themselves—Hafez from Syria and Badr from Iraq—this is an issue close to their hearts. The result is Unpacked, an emotional multi-media installation where the voices of each family tell their experiences as viewers engage with an incredible scale model of the homes they’ve left behind.”
“Each model, created by Hafez, is packed into a suitcase as a symbol of the baggage these families carry forward into their new lives. As Hafez listened carefully during the interviews, which often ran six to seven hours, he was sketching what he heard. Using what he discovered, he was able to mold their memories into a visual representation that leaves no question about the dire circumstances these refugees faced.”
Unpacked will be on view at the University of Madison-Wisconsin – February 5, 2020 to March 15, 2020.
One day I finally knew that I could swim
in the blue of the sky.
That I was as strong as my declaration.
My fears, teachers made just for me.
That there would always be cracks to slip through
times of trembling, shaken awake to fall again.
Then I stood next to the lake,
a mirror of blue sky wholeness,
arms wide with acceptance
I, the problem and solution
reflection of release.
© Alicia Grimshaw 2019 (rewrite of 2017 poem)
Photo taken on a family trip to Varenna, Italy 2016
Home was a dented silver trailer
simply, without shine inside and out.
The window view of the sea
its evolving colors of cloud and fog
filled her need for decoration.
A square sky painting above the sink
included her in its masterpiece
filled her with belonging
and a soundtrack of constant rhythm
wave reassurance, murmurs of the earth.
Passersby with lipfrowning judgement
downcast looks of pity at her dwelling
would never know her contentment.
She had found her community
between wind and simplicity.
© Ali Grimshaw 2019 (Rewrite)
Spills splattered the walls.
Counters filled with clutter,
multiple piles creating a new geography in the room.
There is a relief to cleaning it all away.
Everything in order. Repair and replace.
The seduction of a new cycle, sparkling clean.
Free from marks of history.
What if we could sit with Chaos
for just a little minute?
Feel the wind in our ears.
Hearing her secrets of cleverness.
To soak in the learning of this undone space.
Before an opportunity is erased.
A past disinfected before she can author her story
from which the plot differs from
First published on Vita Brevis
she wished to glue
leaves of color back onto the limbs
unprepared for season’s shift
then her dormant suitcase looked up
with eyes of grace, a reminder
of past orbits around the sun.
© Ali Grimshaw 2018
Leaves play tag in the breeze
as cars chase green lights.
I am the only stillness
in the city this hour.
Living without permission
no need to ask, “Am I allowed?”
The leaves don’t ask to dance
down the cracked sidewalk.
I grant myself this moment
this sunlight soak before
© Ali Grimshaw 2017