Sentinel, by Mandy Macdonald

I am not a silent poet

On 17 November 2018, a young American missionary who tried to land illegally on the remote North Sentinel Island (pop. c. 100), one of the Andaman and Nicobar group in the Indian Ocean, was the latest person to be killed by the island’s inhabitants, who violently repel all outsiders. Since the 1990s the Indian government, which is responsible for the island, has declared it out of bounds to visitors so that the Sentinelese can be left alone.

a people at least
thirty thousand years old
living on what their island provides
naked, handsome, happy
(or so we imagine)
officially ‘uncontacted’
in fact uncontactable
by their own wish
which they enforce by attacking
anyone who tries to land

we want to know about them
of course
……………….how they live, how they survive
how can an island of twenty-three square miles
……………….support them for so many millennia?
can their needs…

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