Arrival

By Angela Costi
Creative Commons/mikecogh

You stand in front of glass,
it opens without knocking,
they have women unarmed
sitting at counters, smiling,
‘Hello, how may I help you?’
They pay people to help you.

There are words you must hold like blankets in snow:
‘human rights’
‘discrimination’.
You repeat them as third language,
they feel hot on your tongue,
they make you remember a child with broken teeth,
remember a woman with torn womb,
the man eating the dirt.
Here, you can say them
again and again
to many strangers
who will take your story
like a startled baby.
In fits and starts, you come to know words
as soldiers standing at check points:
‘allegation’
‘evidence’.

Your story climbs their walls and waits for you
outside their office
knowing
you cannot open the hearts of words
written as law.

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