When you hid in the classroom, got found then “forced”
to follow the teacher to the bus, you refused to get on, kicked
up and plonked yourself down on the grass, curled like a Koala, so
terribly afraid you’d never see your family again, if you went on the trip
to that faraway place in the bush, where Aboriginal kids were
once herded together and locked up . . .
When your ears took in every word and your eyes
were glued to the The Rabbit Proof Fence, you never uttered a sound
while others watched and spoke of the atrocities, the terror of being
ripped from loved ones too weak, too small when faced with the twisted
benevolence of white man’s power . . .
When you drew the Iron Man, coloured
your poster and told the class that this is the shape
you’d like to be when you grow up and this is the man
who’d make the world a better place, your
chest puffed up as we smiled and loved and imagined . . .
When you snatched the pin from another kid, who’d
poked the skins of running boys and you
poked him, so hard, drew blood to teach him a lesson, you
said nothing when you were nailed
and placed in detention . . .
When, bent over the desk, you aimlessly filled in maths blanks and I
asked if you’d like to tell, to write about you and the life you once knew and
you whispered, I’d love to, your growing man’s voice lit up the room
and your pen, held firm in your strong hand, slowly, slowly tracked
across the page until you found the small boy in Sierra Leone; the small
boy who’d run to hide from soldiers who’d forced kids like you to
take up guns to blow away mothers and other loved ones . . .
In your corner of that room, with
each word, you held him, as I hold you.