Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Fridays

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,

           million-strong,

 

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

 

                   marching

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 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.