The Windrushers


After David Lammy


A rose ripped through soil

like Windrush through waves,

or babes through motherlands

disembarked from motherships

her ivory mast, her salt-skin on creation

named in a whale-lit room rocking side to side

come to England, come to learn our ways, teach us yours.


I think of you on the hull licking your thumb to feel north

the porthole moon bobbing to a half on the horizon

you will make the hearts of Jaguars purr on my lane

I will see you swig Pilsner on your lunchbreak,

you will wear the cross of St Christopher

dwelt into blue-collars he sailed on you

I wonder if Britain ever found you?


They won’t find your Grandfather on the cenotaph of names,

Taylor, Andrews, Jones, black man who died for the rose.

Once upon a time a bulldog laid down with fleas

she licked her Brexit runt and raised it British.

All of her litter are white with blue markings,

they are fighting over the septic teets.


I thought of the wall of Johal newsagents today in that summer of 82,

a brick wall of men and women eating baguettes made by Indians,

a white man blowing smoke next to black man blowing smoke,

none of us gave a shit about Britain we were Coventry,

Allesley, Radford, Keresley. we came from everywhere


And nowhere, but that wall of Johal newsagents,

it were a bridge

Yeah, it were Windrush to all of us.


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