Refugees by Bill Lythgoe

I am not a silent poet

Number 3:
Someone’s mum,
everybody’s auntie.
Her round black face
beams in greeting
then fades, frowns.
We have no papers,
no passports, no ID.
When you see
your husband slaughtered,
meat on a slab,
you don’t grab your documents and run.
You grab your children.

Number 7:
Uprooted from his mountain village,
transplanted to a bare bedsit,
softly speaking foreign English.
When they hanged Saddam Hussein
they did right,
he was – what do you say? –
one of the mafia. Yeah,
a gangster.
You’ve  heard of Halabja,
you say Saddam killed
a lot of Kurdish people. Yeah,
he killed my dad.

Number 12:
A pretty face,
short black hair, tight curls,
a tear in her right eye.
An ugly bruise
on the left side of her neck,
parallel to her jaw.
Do you know about Islam?
You have friends who are Muslims,
you’ll understand
I’ve left him.
Last night…

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