The Cost of Fear (Poem)

By Susan Adams

By Susan Adams. This poem is part of our December 2012 and January 2013 focus on Asylum Seekers.


We try our lives, father says

in mail from his Island of Christmas to Jakarta

nothing will happen otherwise.

With time to wind, dreams become hope,

secrets are a burden in streets.


The manifest left for later. It’s time.

Folded, we creep.

Our tongues are fed to silence

air is pitch, we stick;

counted, pushed, huddle the heat.

Panic locks us together

hearts shake with quick-time beats.


Have faith – we’re going to meet your father.

Children lost from our life

pinched into small, we are cracks

in the rotted deck, splintering.

Afraid is the new dawn.


Stars fail this worn out craft

as it heaves its list, too full.

From now nothing is known

mother’s face is strangeness

my feet are not my own.

We have left to arrive.

I pray in primal.


This boat is paper to the storm.

Rocks toy with our future

we are mice to the cats of gods

smashed in a drawn out slaughter

colours scattered on water.


My sister’s hand has gone.

I’m thrashing air

grabbing at new lights

choking on fear.

Land-blown voices mix with beggared calls

from the flotsam of family, as wind

sends souls across waves on wailing bells.

Hope is the water I wear.