For the babies born at sea

My new sestina “Water Birth” has just been published in the new issue of The London Magazine. The poem is available on The London Magazine website, and the full print issue is now also available to order.

The poem is about the babies born in the Mediterranean Sea, many of them in treacherous conditions or on rescue boats. It is often extremely difficult for these babies to acquire citizenship. There is currently no search and rescue service in the Mediterranean, as Italian and European governments are detaining rescue ships.

On 26 January, Médicins Sans Frontières reported that 105 people had already died in the Central Mediterranean since the new year. The majority of people attempting the crossing pass through Libya, where they are exposed to horrific violence, including kidnapping and torture. In 2020, 10 people each week died or went missing trying to cross the Central Mediterranean, on average.

My poem hopes to attest to the strength and humanity of these birthing women, and to the lives of every single human fleeing violence. It also attests to the people and organisations who work to save lives and support people seeking safety, and hopes to raise awareness of this continuing situation, which has not gone away, simply because it has dropped from the headlines.

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