Dark-skinned Girl

This is a poem about Shemima Begum, or more precisely, the nonsensical discussions that surrounded her request to return with her son to the country of her birth. It’s also about political deviousness and a lack of compassion, which many people mistake for a display of patriotism.

Dark-skinned Girl

A dark-skinned girl flew to a far-off land

Convinced by others of a righteous cause

She sought neither approval nor applause

From the family and friends she’d left behind

But went willingly to join a zealots’ band

Where the barely-sighted were led by the blind

And theft was punished by a severed hand


Vilified by politicians, people and press

Who are only willing evil to see

But yet consistently unable to agree

On whether someone of that young age

Is capable of deciding – even more or less

Which actions taken are foolish or sage

And which they should finally have to confess


She wanted to return with her new-born child

To the country where she was born

Despite some citizens’ anger and scorn

Now housed in a camp, unable freely to speak

Where violent men have their religion defiled

Though people pretend for justice to seek

They, for her, let rampant rumours run wild


But we hear now that her son has died

A loss of life which should make anyone sad

Yet some speak as if they were glad

That an innocent boy has yielded his life

For the mistakes made by his mother

The truth of her story of struggle and strife

Yields such common hatred of the other


We wonder whether the colour of her skin

Affected the desire to see a problem vanish

By those who had the power to banish

This victim from her native land

To a country where she had distant kin

Did prejudice play an evil hand

Or was she a victim of political sin?


O, those who are so quick to blame

Please think upon your neighbour’s daughter

And the trauma of inhuman slaughter

The dark-skinned girl was only a child

When she committed the original sin

Think of the youngsters that around us run wild

And tell us where does compassion begin?

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