This big bright land

By Simone King
This big bright land poem by Simone King on Right Now.

Remember the trip over?
Us, pressed against windows, little mouths open
ready to gulp in the vast blue Pacific
filling more space than we knew the world contained
shimmering as confidently as the Milky Way
Us, flying hand-in-clammy-hand
over the chapped moonscape of this great land

Brother, I wait for you
in a grey room whose walls reach for me
sticky stains that smell like dog piss
they lead me along the long, lightless hall
a confused chorus of male voices
yelling pleas, greetings, insults
bounces off cold concrete

When I look at you
wide hollow eyes, meatless cheekbones
wispy limbs eaten by sores
I see faceless ghosts
the ones we thought couldn’t cross the Pacific
followed us here
headless uncles lying in the street
screams shattering the surface of the night

Then here, ghettos of grief in cluttered housing blocks
no words, no care, no help, no jobs
just quick, cheap fixes
you inhabited a smoky haze
with off-white air so thick, so foggy
hard human shapes couldn’t form

They will send you back to Timor
they will say you failed to comply, you didn’t fit
the shadow you cast is too long
for the bright light of this place
And I’m afraid you will wander alone
in a place children tried to forget, but could not
calling no names, holding no hands


This big bright land won the Good Grief Award and was previously published in the Hunter Writers Centre’s Grieve Anthology Volume 6.

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