I look at their faces and feel
ashamed that I use that word
so casually.

How dare I stand up here and
teach its meaning to these people,
scarred by shrapnel, wheezing from
exhaust fumes, soaked through,
sitting on these plastic chairs
under the winking lights?

When a knock at your door can
mean death, when footsteps behind you
can end up crushing your skull,
when the law means nothing
out in the hills and blood demands
blood, then why would you ever
close your eyes? Every whispered
conversation between strangers could
be the upbeat to the end of you
so you jump from bus to bus
and take two hours to get home.

They are not safe even now.

You cannot make mistakes if you
cannot pronounce the word safe,
if you understand it, but it sounds
wrong, then your toddler cannot
touch a hot iron without social
services threatening to take him.

Your tears are not British so
they are just water.

Your explanations are too
guttural so they must be

They are now less safe than ever.

There is no number you can put
on the years that will make you a
native. You cannot be friends with
the sun and also the things that shrivel
in shadows, there are bags full of
safety, neatly shredded, being
recycled right now into bleached
toilet roll.

No number of years can truly
make them safe.

Let me never speak that word again
until I too know what it is like to be
chased from my home by slavering wolves
into a radioactive wasteland.

Let me never speak that word again
until we can all be truly safe.