for Omar, for Michelle
The suburbs are baking, creaking under tyres, driving in.
GPS directs you to gentrified streets in residential Redfern.
Weeds blow in from Prince Alfred Park off Cleveland.
A concierge pickets the towers and the warehouses,
all those hot desks, the graffiti more white than Murri.
In the café I hear my heart thrumming in its cage,
our blood accustomed to border policies and bullying.
You drink another coffee, talk about how hard on the body
being brown is in this white country, the dying habitual.
Say we are pugilists— our rivals have nails in their gloves.
We talk about near misses and distant wins, how to rise
fighting, Mohammed’s falling out, and then the upswing.
Parting, I hug you, but in the very tips of my fingers
anxiety creeps under the skin, the exhaustion we share
remains, lingering like two emailed kisses from Michelle.
Days when tirelessly, cicadas are drilling a core into summer.
Eyes weaker than ever, trained for copies, pages falling to
silence, as if silence gathers form. We are like ghosts screaming.
And the ones who are hushed or complicit profit from this noise.
This poem was first published in The Lifted Brow 37. You can purchase a copy here.
Michelle Cahill's collection of short stories, Letter to Pessoa, won the 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Award for New Writing. Her latest poetry book is The Herring Lass.