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The Empathy Poems project is designed to raise awareness about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.

A Story (after Levine)

Yet all we see are houses, rows and rows
of homes ravaged by war and wear
and tear and tears; cavities where doors
once yawned, unhinged neighbourhoods
whose streets once bright with laughter
were fortified by alley cats, tobacconists
and clutches of gossiping women threaded
together by small children at play. We see
skeletal apartment blocks stripped of their flesh;
in their sinewy embarrassment they fall
in a heap, hiding their privates beneath piles
of brick and the debris of lost generations. Each
night at 7:00 their modesty is assaulted
again to reveal a hint of kitchen sink, a glimpse
of mattress, an unsheathed drawer; give us
a close up on that bloodied shoe.
What you knew to be true smelled of home;
biscuits and laundry and, in spring, blossoms
arguing with spices one minute and cigarette
smoke the next. At least that’s how I imagine
your home, your shoes, your story. Is that how you
remember it? Before they reached in and shook
your world inside out? Thwacked it with a stick
after throwing it over the washing line?
And as if enough is not enough we welcome you not
with open arms and open doors that yawn
on well-hinged neighborhoods
in suburbs bright with possibility, fortified
by normality and those little comforts
like peace (you know the ones). No,
we welcome you into a new world few
are allowed to see, not even us.
We hug you tight (too tight) until we tell
you to go (get gone) in shoes worn half
to death. How crushing our embrace.

Psalm 23

The Man Waiting