Iraq Occupation Focus logo US troops face Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad, July 2003
Iraq Occupation Focus : Campaigning to end the occupation of Iraq
2004 competition
Join our mailing list
Subscribe to the Iraq Occupation Focus newsletter via
Support our work by becoming a member of Iraq Occupation Focus >>

Iraq Occupation Focus
PO Box 44680
N16 7XX

2004 competition: Highly commended (9 of 11)


As I write, Sabir is trying to get here
climbing onto a pitching boat with a
terrified child in his grip and another
one left behind, stepping over the waves
into the tilting curve of the wood;
he is out on a sudden north-easter,
the tide pulling him further, while
he unfurls the dark from a corner
and scrabbles ashore as a border-guard
fingers the trigger. I hear that he waits
inside steel for a lip-service interview
and a no that is clearly translated.
At the same time his previous name
is in flames along with his birth-certificate
which now is commanded as proof
by a sullen grey summons to stand
before law and mahogany benches.
Simultaneously, he is twenty-seven-days old
with a fine head of hair and long feet,
he is under the average weight, sleeps
in a warm orange room on a Tigger rug
under embroidery of the black rock
at Mecca and I am persuading
his mother to eat more than Weetabix.
Everything else is pooled at the gate
like something that happened
to somebody else, which it did,
but it rustles and shakes
as I walk up the path, into the English
autumn light and the warning glare
of a search-vessel out on the water.

River Wolton