Ashur Etwebi / Wind, just for the refugees

Foto: Ole Ekker

A blue rope in his foot


Wait, child,

Don’t take the boat to the sea!

Listen with your heart.


You see the fear in their eyes

You smell the rotten bodies

You hear the drowned moans

Wait, child.

On the far shore of the Mediterranean,

where flags soaked with blood are silent

and I turn my back to the sea,

stand with my feet firmly on the sand.

The moon above is so weak, the baby in my lap with closed eyes

stares to a blue sky tied to the bird, to the boat.

Sicilian guards wake early, drink their sweet coffee,

Throw breadcrumbs to the vast sea.

The guards arrest a hungry bird, a blue rope in his foot.


When the prow of the boat pushes against the sky,

Refugee hands erase empty clouds.

A few sleeping in the galley

Could not hear the cries of the drowning child.


Tonight the boat is empty and the shark is full.

All is quiet, but for the sound of the drowned returning home

their names were taken to the horizon of absence.





Wind, just for the refugee


The steps of the main square sweat. The steps of the main square are smooth and cold.

The steps of the main square are full of tired feet.

Alone yet together, resting on the shoulders of the prophet.


They arrived open-chested. They carried suitcases crammed with prayers and family tears. A

smell of iodine stronger than time’s sweat. The blue bird lands on the mouth of the drowned.

What can it hear? Why does he flutter his wings? Silence. A strong wind. Nothing.


The horse aches gallops aches gallops aches gallops aches.

The refugee hugs himself withers hugs himself withers hugs himself withers hugs himself

withers hugs himself withers.


He was discovered by a member of Libyan Red Crescent, under a large eucalyptus tree.

He looked like death, a flower in his hand.

Who is crossing the square now, is it the night or an African refugee?

The drunks bottle their laughter

And hang the scruffy shoe from telephone wires.



Wind: the refugee’s umbilical cord.

Wind: a coffin and a wedding rose.


Those who survived

Laughed and danced until morning.

The moon was there

Fire was there

The smuggler was there

God was there.


The refugee’s whisper sinks deep. The cellist closes her eyes on a distant melody. In

Lampedusa, the melon seller reminisces under a forgotten bridge. The night guard follows the

frightened footsteps of refugees with sluggish eyes.


On the shore, a pigeon, tucked under the child’s MESSI shirt, forgot the rhythm of its wings and

just gazed at the survivors with a blank look. The arrivals lost their tongues. Their steps

became short, narrow at daytime, wider at night.


 Translated by the author and James Byrne



Ashur Etwebi, born in 1952 in Tripoli, Libya. Physician, Poet, novelist, translator and painter. Published 9 volumes of poetry, 7 books of translation, including anthology of Japanese Haiku, and selections of Rumi and Kabir poems. Also translated into Arabic Paal-Helge Haugen, Olav H. Hauge and many other Norwegian poets. Etwebi has also published one novel Dardanin. 4 book of translation of selection of his works in English, French, and Polish. 


These poems are part of a series with prose and poetry about the refugee during the ongoing climate catastrophes. / Diktene inngår i en serie med prosa og poesi om flyktningen under klimaforverringene. 

Klimaaksjonen takker Bergesenstiftelsen for honorarstøtte til disse diktene. 


Tidligere tekster om flyktningen på nettsiden:


Mediterranean blue / Naomi Shihab Nye

Flygtningenes tid / Kirsten Thorup

Ømhed og politisk praksis / Jonas Eika, Rolf Sparre Johansson

Ai Weiwei: Our Judgement is Crippled

Lyudmyla Chersonska: Two poems

Jægeren og de som jages / Susanne Christensen

Andreas Eckhardt-Læssøe: Om at samle sig og samle sammen

Göran Sonnevi: Tre dikt

Wera Sæther: Vannet

Madame Nielsen: Slovenia – Østerrike

Thomas Hylland Eriksen / Arne Johan Vetlesen: Klimaflukt som moralsk utfordring

Herta Müller: Nachts, wenn die Zäune wandern

Freddy Fjellheim og Søren Høyner: Uskyldige menneskers flukt fra klimaødeleggelse 

Inger Elisabeth Hansen: Å resirkulere lengselen

Frode Grytten: Tusener seglar igjen

Gunnar Wærness: Venn med alle, III



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