Refuge by Marjorie Lotfi Gill


Poems by Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Makar for the Federation of Writers Scotland & founder of Open Book.


Marjorie Lotfi Gill was born in New Orleans, spent her childhood in Tehran, then lived in San Diego, Washington DC and New York before moving to London in 1999 and Edinburgh in 2005. She founded and runs Open Book, which organises reading groups in community settings and with vulnerable adults.

Her poetry examines journeys and questions of belonging, particularly relating to the experiences of refugees and migrants. Refuge takes its starting point as 1970s Tehran, in an Iran on the cusp of revolution, and explores ideas of flight, journey and assimilation.


Her grandfather always said
that everything she’d need
was beneath the grey of its shell;
the signposts of winter would come
from its height, the strength
of its spine, how long it resisted
before nodding its head to wind.

When she left, she took nothing
but the seeds, their rattle in the tiny
tin better than money; no one else
would know the shade of soil
for planting, want flocks of birds
for friends. Now, she sleeps with them
under her pillow where they grow
into her dreams, stakes to lean against
on each crossing, and wakes
picking at yellow petals
tangled in her hair.


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