Elyas Alavi,  Ordugah (Detention Camp) , 2014, Mashad Iran, video still. Courtesy the artist.

Elyas Alavi, Ordugah (Detention Camp), 2014, Mashad Iran, video still. Courtesy the artist.

Where is the homeland?

by Elyas Alavi

 

The homeland, a wooden table
At which we drank tea
And breathed a sigh of relief
just before the immigration police caught us.

The homeland
An old boat
Adrift on the wild tresses of the Aegean Sea
“Pray that the sea calms down
The clouds calm down
The winds calm down!”
the old captain was saying
just before we danced among the waves.

The homeland
A detention camp in Torbat-e Jam (1)
With high cement walls
With a high barbed wire fence
With long queues
Bread, a letter, shame.

The homeland
A distant café in London
Amidst fog and smoke and darkness
In which people with troubled shadows
And faded, lost eyes
Breathe bitter bitter breaths
And down their cups of sorrow.

Tall-e Siah
Quetta
Istanbul
Nauru
Woomera
The homeland perhaps is a hole in al-Khalil (2)
That waits hungrily for my thirsty lips
Where is the homeland?

 

 Elyas Alavi,  Ordugah (Detention Camp) , 2014, Mashad Iran, video still. Courtesy the artist.   

Elyas Alavi, Ordugah (Detention Camp), 2014, Mashad Iran, video still. Courtesy the artist.

 


  1. Torbat-e Jam: A detention camp for Afghan refugees in Iran
  2. Al-Khalil is the name of the Muslim cemetery in Adelaide

Elyas Alavi is an artist and poet in Adelaide, South Australia. Alavi was born in Daikundi province, Afghanistan. As a child, he moved to Iran following the intensification of war in his homeland and in 2007, to Australia as a refugee at risk.