Maxine Beneba Clarke

                                              this month


we know now

what the body does


                                     for the second time



    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



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".

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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.

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