Maxine Beneba Clarke

for greta thunberg


              on fridays,

our children are bursting train carriages

backpacked full of hope


wielding placards bedroom-made

from flattened cornflake boxes

    and upcycled tomato-stakes


              on fridays,

our children raise melodic voices

meant for playing tag, or jump-rope


and take to the streets,

   in every city,



and begging us

           for hope



in the empty classrooms

silence echoes

    round initial-etched desks


and lockers, left open, spill

crumpled science notes


              on fridays,

our kids are forced

to become adults


on the ball court,

    a lone grey hoodie hangs, abandoned,

from the hoop


every week, our children sacrifice

one-fifth of their dreams

              and on fridays,

they become exactly

who we need



with their arms around

    each other’s tiny shoulders

and their iphones held up viral-high


they are brave enough

    to defy instruction

sure enough to face the future

     and smart enough

to know their minds


if they save the world


    or not



              on fridays,


    our children tried

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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