CHRISTMAS ISLAND, AUSTRALIA,
JULY 2014 ~ A POEM
She takes a bottle,
smashes it against a breeze block
they used to build the barracks
that bake at noon and sweat at midnight.
Sorts out a piece of glass
sharp, fits neatly in her hand
draws it across her slender wrist
a green transluscent bow ’cross a brown cello.
She lies back, deeply tired.
More tired than she thought possible
sun incessant on her face
and, dignified, hoses her life over the wooden steps.
Within a few minutes they come running.
Rush her to the infirmary
wrapping her, scolding her,
but she is silent, crying silent, bleeding silent.
A dozen at least like this, they say,
because if they die their children
will have a golden future.
Dreaming of the lucky country.
And in the Ministerial offices
a man with glasses and a poor haircut
says we do not comment on detainee self-harm
we could not possibly comment.
We lock them up.
We send them back.
We give them over.
We un-person them by not talking.
And on the island, the woman lies
wrists bandaged, children frightened.
She is an operational matter:
she operated on herself,
but we are not allowed to know.
The blood bakes black on the wooden steps.
Birds carol raucous in the trees.
Her children weep midst the breeze blocks.
Merry Christmas Island.