Posted on October 2nd 2020
'The Rush of Wind' - A Poem for Black History Month
At Harris Academy Peckham, WORD is core to everything we do. So during Black History Month we want to celebrate the power of our voice.
Miss Howell, a spoken word artist herself, has written a poem in reflection of Windrush. This was done following work with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah and we wanted to share it with you here.
Pictured: John, a part of the Windrush generation, visiting Clapham South Deep Shelter, decades after being there during Windrush.
The Rush of Wind
Written by Miss Howell
May this Empire Windrush deliver us to freedom
I see my brothers and sisters on this glorious ship
We dance the glory dance
We cheer the glory cheer
Our merry souls are steeped in excitement that we've been invited here.
When we anchor ourselves into the blessed
Tilbury Docks of Essex
The world is our oyster.
We will disperse into England with energy matched of joyous children,
I wonder what their trains looks like.
I wonder what their roads feel like beneath my feet
Will I ever feel the humid heat of Jamaica again?
I don't know where I will lay my head
Or if I'll even have a bed
But we know we've been invited here.
Some two hundred and fifty of us travel
To the Clapham South Deep Shelter.
We make ourselves comfortable in our new temporary home.
Some of us have a lot of belongings and some of us have none
None of us have our papers so the journey cannot be undone.
For six shillings and sixpence a week it buys me a bunker with crisp white sheets below the Northern line.
The windowless underworld under the underground
And I cannot believe how loud it is.
Trains rattle overhead and our bodies involuntarily shake to the rhythm of moving trains.
The energy of transport is so fast here
Everyone is bolting around the streets like quick flashes of lightning.
We travel to Brixton to the labour employment
And guess what?
I've got me a job!
With the glorious British Rail Depot in Orpington...
But glory here in England doesn't last long
They tell you
"It's the mother country, you're all welcome, you're British" but now that I live here
You realise you're a foreigner and that's all there is to it.
I may always be an alien in a country that invited me
They may try to erase our labour that helped their broken economy
They may try to deport my friends of the West Indies
But they will never erase me.
I am John Richards, a ninety-four-year-old proud Jamaican man who worked for the National Rail until I retired.
I may, at my old age be tired of corrupt Britain
But I am one of many pioneers of the Windrush Generation.
And no matter how hard England tries to erase us, we were invited here.