Project Description

Laila Sumpton

Laila Sumpton

Laila Sumpton is a member of the Keats House Poets and works in both the poetry and NGO world, hoping to bring the two together. She runs creative writing workshops at museums, charities, hospitals and universities and writes extensively about human rights issues. She co-edited ‘In Protest- 150 poems for human rights’ published by the University of London’s Human Rights Consortium and is working on her first pamphlet with the working title of ‘King Arthur in Kashmir.’

Landing on Lampedusa

Scoop by scoop
she drags her whole story
onto the beach.
She is a helmet towed by flippers,
scarred by sharks and rudders.

She does not have a tag,
the sharks saw to that-
so arrives on a cloudy night
in between civil wars;
when the landing area is quieter,
when fewer people come out to watch.

She heaves the cargo
she will never see alive,
but knows they are whiter
than the moon they have not seen.
Her cargo has been squirming
since the sea stopped rocking them
and this is the closest they will ever be.

For if they ever meet
after its’ shell has hardened,
out on the waves
as they vie for a broken crab;
she will never know
she is starving her own flesh
-just by trying to live,
and that’s all her blank eyes
in their leather hood can focus on.

She looks past the muddled tracks
of army, police and border patrol,
just scoops and drags herself past
the headlights that are scanning
the stranded seaweed mess.

None of this matters to her,
to her heaviness
when the moon is urging her on.
She just scoops and drags herself past
the lost bikinis, Peroni bottles
and single sandals
that walked deserts to get here.