The language I speak is a language of grief

When we heard the guns we grabbed what we could. The bullets shattered the windows and splintered the doors. The floors shook. There was no place to run or hide. I grabbed two dish towels because I happened to be standing in the kitchen. We use them as turbans on our heads. Three men dead tossed overboard. The three men left saved shoes and pants and belts. I gave the last bit of bread to my child and for her sake try to smile. I whisper tales of almonds and honey cakes. She is too tired to weep; her head lies listless and she sleeps. Her pants and blouse are rags. I tried to drink salt water but I gagged. Yesterday, the boy cast a string into the sea and fashioned a hook by bending a rusty nail.

Strangers will never believe this tale.
There will be rows of lovely olive trees in Greece where the roofs of the houses are white and sparkle like diamonds in the sun. There are blue doors and a cross on every house so we will surely be welcome there instead of beheaded, crucified and shot.

No one listens. No one cares.
We do not know if we go North or South or East or West.  We follow the seagulls. We do not understand the reason we had to flee and leave our lives behind.  Women herded into cages by rebels and driven to the village square.  Chemical weapons. Perhaps this is some kind of test.

Syllables drop like heavy stones.
I used to think I could not get through the day without a cup of espresso, one lump of sugar and a slice of fresh lemon.  Our skin is blistered by the sun. There is not enough water for the six of us to share. There is no adequate prayer.  I heard that on a mountain after a plane crash the survivors were forced to eat flesh. Thank God, we have not gotten that desperate yet.  I tell myself we are lucky to be alive on this leaky boat. The smugglers swore we would reach the rocky shores. They lied.  We thought our coins bought freedom. We ride the tide bereft. Nothing we knew is left.

Sometimes I think we are all refugees floating in a wine dark sea.

[Image: Jean Jacques Henner. Jesus, The seven sorrows of Mary]