number 631

By Robert Verdon
Torso with sign reading 631

By Robert Verdon

This poem was runner up in the Right Now Poetry Competition, judged by Maxine Beneba-Clarke, Amanda Anastasi and Benjamin Solah. Read the shortlist here

cold day

in a book I come across

in the pleasant public library

there is an old photograph of a girl

about 15

with a big card hung round her neck,

the string looped callously

round her head:

the string wound about

violating her temples

number 631

standing in her home

looking stunned

waiting to be taken to the camp

I feel the pounding terror of her heart

on the card is the word Name

and a line, left blank.

I drop that line of enquiry;

even though it is winter

I am glad to get out into the sun.


Robert Verdon belonged to Aberrant Genotype Press in Canberra from 1998-2002.  He came 2nd in the 2012 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize. His books include The Well-Scrubbed Desert (1994), Her Brilliant Career (1998), and Before we Knew this Century (2010).