Ruth Borchard, by Natalie Scott

Refugee of Nazi oppression, detained
for 6 weeks as an ‘enemy alien’, 1940

Alien: noun: a foreigner – synonyms:
non-native, immigrant, emigrant,
emigre, incomer, outsider, stranger,
newcomer, visitor.
I like visitor.
Yes. I could be your guest. I have
travelled here to escape.
The journey was long and tiring.
I won’t be in your way forever
but while I am you could help.
It won’t cost you much to do so.
Be the gentile, genial host.
Go on, invite me to tea if you dare.
I’m a newcomer, show me the ropes.

Get to know me
and I’m no longer a stranger.
Welcome me
and I’m no longer a foreigner.

Enemy: noun: actively opposed
or hostile to someone or something.
A thing that harms or weakens
something else.
I am the antonym.
Co-operative in all this chaos.
Calmly waiting in my cell.
Waiting for the real enemies
to destroy my clothes, to wave
a lit cigarette in my face, to say
I’m polluted for marrying a Jew.
For you to say we’re all the same.
All suspects. Bloody foreigners.
Yet I have committed no crime,
caused no harm. Weakened no one.

Speak to me and you’ll find out. Find
your own way of defining me
other than categorisation. A. B. C.

I may never see my daughter again.
Define my feelings for that if you can.

..

Natalie Scott is a Teesside-based poet and educator with a PhD in Creative Writing. She has collections published by Indigo Dreams, Bradshaw Books and Mudfog, as well as many appearances in literary journals including Ambit, Agenda and Orbis. Her collection Berth – Voices of the Titanic was awarded runner-up for the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition, 2011. Her latest project Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison was awarded funding from the Arts Council of England.

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