Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Asylum

                                              this month

 

we know now

what the body does

 

                                     for the second time

 

falling

    at eighty km an hour,

from a detention centre roof

 

                                     new zealand offered

 

the certain precision

   of razor wire

 

                                     to bring them there

 

the crimson

              of artery

 

                                             to safety

 

we know the smell

of burning flesh

 

                                one hundred and fifty

                                            survivors

 

and how greedily

      a lighter flame

licks kerosene from skin

 

                                of the australian

                                detention regime

 

 

 

we know all this,

      because we’ve done all this

 

 

                          sweet mercy,

                                  set them free

 

 

_________

Lifeline 13 11 14

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 27, 2019 as "Asylum". Subscribe here.

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.