Like all the others
On the island that does not look like Christmas,
the orange Ali eats does not taste like the sun.
The blanket he’s given does not make him warm.
The keys hanging at the gut-level of guards
do not sound like the jingling of bells and parcels
are not presents but toothpaste and soap.
And the baby is hungry or crying or just fallen
asleep or just woken up. But Ali is big,
so be a man for your mother, his father said
but now it is the seventy-sixth day
and his father has sewn his lips shut like all the others
and refuses the oranges the guards hand out.
And the flies are fleshy and black. And at dusk
the blood-sun puts across the sea.
So much water with no land in it.
Terror doesn’t vanish
with the coastline.
Always an infant-shaped hole
and a son trailing rope
from the heart of his mother;
always a rope trailing over the deck
where the waves break the watery moon
into splinters. Always a rope
and the neck of things broken,
swinging from the date tree.
And always his mother
singing him to sleep
with the wet-eyed song of her grief.
These poems are from the collection The Asylum Poems, which depict the plight of those seeking asylum in Australia. You can buy the chapbook at Recent Works Press.