Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Hotel Alice

        on march 21
the people’s feet thundered

seven thousand
through the township
   of sharpeville

chanting izwe lethu

come hell or mandela
they would fell the passbook laws

sixty nine dead

without one
    dispersion warning

wailing children carried the bodies
of wailing children carried
their mothers shouldered
            the men

and all the black and
fertile soil

sunken with their blood

we call it harmony day
down here

        in the land
where apartheid still exists

and the laws of apartheid
          

            began

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