considering freedom

antoine cassar reading his poem Passport in Maltese and English, in tandem with Matt Gonzalez
San Francisco International Poetry Festival, 27.7.2012

  Yours
  this passport
  for all peoples,
  with a rainbow flag, and the emblem of a migratory goose encircling the globe,
  in all the languages you want, official or dialect,
  in ocean blue, or dried blood red, or coal black ready for burning, the choice is yours,
  take it where you will, your passage is safe and unobstructed, the door unscrewed from the jambs,
  you can enter and leave without fear, there is no one to stop you,
  no one to jump you in the queue, or send you to the back, there’s no need to wait,
  no one to say Ihre Papiere Bitte!, quickening your heartbeat with the pallour of his finger,
  no one to squint or glare at you according to the gross domestic product per capita of the nation you’ve left behind,
  no one to brand you stranger, alien, criminal, illegal immigrant, or extra-communautaire, nobody is extra, …

(from the English version of Passport,
adapted by Albert Gatt & Antoine Cassar)

Since my mother passed away, antoine cassar’s poem PASSPORT drifts in circles like some powerful lost albatross in my mind. Sometimes the words catch me off guard, like the sound of traffic when you have slept in too late. Or your name being called when you are half asleep, in the dark.

Mum and Dad arrived in England seeking work long before I was born, and I still think what a luxury it is to move freely. To be able to afford papers, to be “permitted”, to not be behind walls, on rafts with a mouthful of salt, or pursuing a long arduous walk carrying my child.

Years ago, antoine allowed me to publish his poem in a fundraising anthology, later he sent me a small copy of his book to keep (it is beautiful) and I urge you to seek out his projects and work. He is generous and truthful. For me, the words have shaped new light to see by in these concrete times and as I personally come to terms with never asking my mother how she felt raising children far away from “home.” Perhaps antoine’s work is more relevant now than ever for all of us.

On second thoughts, perhaps that is a meaningless observation. Maybe it would be more invigorating to ask whether his poem PASSPORT will always be relevant? Or will there be a time when we are free to move freely?

To learn more about antoine cassar please visit: Passaport | antoine cassar