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Xenos

by Ella Stathis of Campsie, NSW

Your poems make me feel like a refugee

cut off from my homeland by some nondescript disaster.

 

The start of some new war, perhaps?

The ending of another?

 

I wonder if it matters – either way, the way is shut. 

Now I must raise my children from this plot of bloody ochre.

 

Can you make a house a home

if you stole the land it stands on?

 

I promise I’ll be grateful – God knows I have no choice.

We’ve all seen what they do to those who don’t agree to grovel.

 

My son will learn your alphabet; I’ll shoulder your traditions.

I’ll make my customs edible and highly photogenic.

 

I’ll be a model citizen, and tolerate your tolerance – 

I’m sure we’ll learn to rub along just fine. 

 

But every time I read about your eucalypts and flyscreens

and see you waxing lyrical for some suburban memory

 

I hear my spirit whispering:

This is not my land.

 

We know I’ll never show it; there is no greater trespass here

than flinching from the fingers of the hand that gave you succour.

Recoiling means inviting down a hail of flagellation

the punishment reserved for the different and ungrateful.

 

And then the final knockout – my family inheritance:

Why don’t you go back to where you came from?

 

But home is not a place we left. 

It’s something we were ripped from.  

 

Chiselled off its surface

by the batterings of fate. 

 

And how like you, to misconstrue my apathy as hatred

as though I have to love a thing to comprehend its purpose.

 

I know the words are music, but the meaning is beyond me;

You pulled them from a story I will never understand.

 

Because you are not my people.

And this is not my land.

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