Thursday, 10 May 2018

HMT Windrush

‘Dull, wet and rather cool’
The June that waited those who came
From Kingston and Port of Spain aboard
Hired Military Transport Windrush.

What better way to reinforce
Our hospitals, buses and trains?
What better day to dock in Tilbury
Than Midsummer’s Day ‘48?

They shiver as they come ashore,
As sea-swell legs take wobbly steps.
A daughter hides in mother’s skirts;
Her brother’s hand seeks father’s palm.

Their pristine papers duly stamped,
They’re transported up to London Town
And play a game, the four of them –
Of ‘Who Can Spot The First Red Bus?’

A Clapham air-raid shelter’s where
They first lay heads on English soil.
Morning comes and the men go off
To register as ‘Available’

At the Brixton Labour Exchange.
They found a flat in Coldharbour Lane,
But never saw Jamaica again
And still the boy and girl cannot.

Those pristine papers, mostly lost,
Are considered now ‘inconclusive’.
They cannot vouch their every move
So, if they leave, they can’t return.

© Richard Devereux

Home Office told of Windrush errors five years ago, experts say

Richard Devereux is a member of Lansdown Poets and Bristol Stanza. His collection Bill tells the story of his grandfather, a soldier of World War One who fought on the Balkan front in northern Greece. Richard taught English in Athens and his knowledge of Greece inspires and informs much of his writing. His poems have appeared in several anthologies and on-line magazines.