- Glasgow Snow* (for S)
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You were found in the snow in GlasgowOutside the entrance to Central Station.Your journey took you from an Ethiopian prisonTo the forests in France where luck and chanceShowed you not all white men are like the menIn Roots—a film you watched once.The people smugglers didn’t treat you like KizzyOr Kunta Kinte, brought you food and water by day,Offered you shelter in a tent, and it was sanctuary.And you breathed deep the forest air, freely.
But when you were sent here, Glasgow,In the dead winter: below zero, no place to go,You rode the buses to keep warm: X4M, Toryglen,Castlemilk, Croftfoot, Carbrain, EasterhouseMoodiesburn, Red Road flats, Springburn,No public fund, no benefit, no home, no sanctum,No haven, no safe port, no support,No safety net, no sanctuary, no nothing.Until a girl found you in the snow, frozen,And took you under her wing, singing.
Oh … would that the Home Office showThe kindness of that stranger in the winter snow!Would they grant you asylum, sanctum,For your twenty-seventh birthday?On March 8th, two thousand and thirteen,You could become, not another figure, sum, unseen,Another woman sent home to danger, dumb, afraid,At the mercy of strangers, no crib, no bed,All worry: next meal, getting fed, fetching up dead.And at last, this winter, you might lay down your sweet head. [End Page 264]
Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers, her first book of poems, won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize, and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere, her most recent collection of poems, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. Her novel Trumpet won The Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and the London Book Award. In 2006, she was awarded an MBE, and in 2002 she was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her book of stories Wish I Were Here won the Decibel British Book Award. Her most recent book is Reality, Reality, a collection of short stories. She is also the author of plays and books for children.
* “Glasgow Snow” appeared in the Scottish newspaper Scotland on Sunday on March 20, 2013.