I dedicate this poem to the Manus Island detainees who have lost their lives.
We have them all in our minds and will never forget them.
You are not colour
You are not smell.
You are not shadow.
You are not sunshine.
You are absolute darkness for me,
with no beginning or end.
In which part of the world can I find you?
If someday you pass though this city
tie a red scarf around your neck
so I can recognize you.
I’ll sit on the train tracks waiting
for you to descend.
I don’t know what you are.
But I whisper your name like a lost child.
Freedom, set me free from this prison!
This prison made by fellow human beings.
I am a rain drop
waiting to join the sea.
look how my brain is frozen.
A spider web has surrounded my thoughts.
Smoke and dust sit on my mind;
my heart is surrounded by hatred.
They made a cage in my throat —
But they left this voice and enough breath to speak my truth.
If you come to this country someday
you will pass through a city of blood.
If you saw all the blood on the ground
you would never return, from fear.
We accept death just like life here:
we see no difference between water and blood.
tell me about windows that open to gardens.
Tell me about the singing of birds.
Tell me about the dancing of butterflies.
Tell me about the playing of fish.
Look how I forget these simple, everyday things!
I will not sit waiting for you.
You have killed my hope.
You have destroyed my goals.
You did not show mercy to my friends —
You led them to their deaths.
You made men sick by searching for you and killed them.
You hung and murdered others.
You pushed another into the river to drown.
You hit a stone on some poor man’s head and ended his life too.
Is this the meaning of freedom for you?
I’ve accepted my death here.
For years the ceiling of my room has been my sky.
Take my life and set me free.
I’m fed up with dying every single second.
Pour my blood into the veins of my country —
I don’t want my blood to dry beside my bones.
I had hoped to see my mother again one day:
but the dandelions have told me she is dead.
*Poem by Mohammad Ali Maleki
Translated by Mansour Shoushtari
Edited by Michele Seminara
Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.