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

The Man Waiting

I can tell by the way the palms beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried tent
that a storm is coming to Manus,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without an old friend,
I can't love without my dead sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across this island and across time,
and the world looks as if it has no pity:

the landscape, like a line in a prisoner’s memoir, 
is despair and illness and eternity.

What we are seeking is so tiny! 
What fights with us is so great. 
If only those fearful would let themselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 
they would become strong too, and not need to shame us.

When we win here, it's with small things, 
and the triumph itself makes us smaller. 
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not draw lines of no return
I mean the Angel who appeared
to me last night in that sad canteen:
when the cook’s eyes grew big,
like my father’s when they slit his throat, 
and offered me an extra plate
for my sick brother.

Whoever has met this Angel
(because he is always present) 
went away lighter and strengthened
and grateful from his generous hand, 
that kneaded him as if to give him hope.

Fear does not tempt that man. 
This is how he grows: by waiting, resolutely, for

The small miracles done by greater beings.

A Story (after Levine)

The Art of Disappearing