Asylum seeker's goodbye

Family history

For years you search, persuaded
the blank spaces in the jigsaw
can be filled by pieces
lying on the table.

You comb dictionaries looking
for the word, eight letters,
second one a D, so 7 down fits
in the mortise cut on 12 across.

You twist the cube to make
the green face green, the blue all blue,
but a pesky yellow chip
always turns up in one corner.

At last, you realise
that what you hold is not
a jigsaw, cube or crossword
but a faded photograph –
crinolines and waistcoats –
the heads of him and her,
top right, torn off.

Defeated, you concede
the missing corner long ago
slipped down in the dust
behind a chest of drawers
in a house abandoned.

–Bob Morrow


Moving day

The trailer hauling our ancestor’s furniture
is tiny, so,
lest we forget
and merge violently
into some other Australians careering up
this old colony road,
a bobbing broomstick
reminds us of something behind.
            We had finally crammed our mother
like flattened linen into a Sydney flat,
wadded in by what few remains
could be wrestled up steps,
through the tiny door,
the old house now a dark shell
perched in a Goulburn field.
             The rest
fragmented between charity,
dumps and heirs:
like these rattling red cedar boards,
felled by our people after the gold all dug out,
when the great trees
still clambered up hinterland,
felled and milled and wrought into this table,
jolting up the freeway
beneath a scarecrow broom,
ever onward to the city,
such tiny remains of so many hands.

–David Hastie


Asylum seeker

It was hard to stay calm crossing the tarmac;
gripping each boy firmly
to ensure they mounted the gangway
before another mortar
scorched their lives again.

It was hard to look back
for hot desert sands were stinging her eyes,
quickly obscuring aging parents
waving forlornly from the terminal.

And it was hard to cry
for the three year old
abducted and murdered
now decaying in a corner of the family vault.

As the plane crawled skywards
it was also hard to believe
that the pock-marked landscape
would be her last glimpse of Baghdad.

–John Collard


Bob Morrow

Bob Morrow lives in Melbourne and fell into writing poetry while in Ireland searching for his forebears' roots. He is currently working on a collection of poems about family and the sense of place.

David HastieDavid Hastie is a school teacher and education academic, has published in the fields of poetry, education and history, and has an undisclosed number of pets and relatives.

John CollardJohn Collard has been writing poetry since he was 15. He has worked as a teacher, principal, educational bureaucrat and senior academic. John does volunteer work with refugees and assylum seekers and this poem is based upon the life of a recent asylum seeker who has gained Australian Citizenship. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, bob morrow, family history, david hastie, moving day, john collard, asylum seeker

 

 

submit a comment

Similar Articles

Private school education in purgatory

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 09 March 2011

Parents and teachers have absconded. A violent altercation is documented by students with camera phones. During a drug-and-booze-addled party, a girl is assulted and left for dead. A pricey education is no substitute for an ethical framework.

READ MORE

Hating hipsters and bogans

  • Ellena Savage
  • 03 March 2011

We wear op-shop outfits, read classics, watch Q&A and sip lattes. There are puerile vanities here, but who doesn't entertain such vanities? Bogans, of course. 

READ MORE

We've updated our privacy policy.

Click to review