Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peter Skrzynecki

Migrant Hostel
Parkes, 1949-51
No one kept count
of all the comings and goings—
arrivals of newcomers
in busloads from the station,
sudden departures from adjoining blocks
that left us wondering
who would be coming next.

Nationalities sought
each other out instinctively—
like a homing pigeon
circling to get its bearings;
years and name-places
recognised by accents,
partitioned off at night
by memories of hunger and hate.

For over two years
we loved like birds of passage—
always sensing a change
in the weather:
unaware of the season
whose track we would follow.

A barrier at the main gate
sealed off the highway
from our doorstep—
as it rose and fell like a finger
pointed in reprimand or shame;
and daily we passed
underneath or alongside it—
needing its sanction
to pass in and out of lives
that had only begun
or were dying.

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