The Unaccompanied Minor

She reminded me of my daughter with her dark intelligent eyes 
 And her brown hair bunching in lazy curls about her shoulders. 
 She looked up at me as I hoisted the boat clear of the sea and smiled with even 
      white teeth 
 And seemed, somehow, unafraid. 
 There were other children, wet and ragged, but also unbowed, 
 Unbowed by the shark-grey navy boat and its navy men in mindless grey 
      camouflage 
 With their guns strapped low on their thighs so maybe they could quick draw 
 and get a bead on … whom? 
 Maybe an eight-year-old girl or her six-year-old brother, or their mother or 
      father, or the cutthroat crew 
 Barefoot and threadbare as any hobo. 
 But there she was smiling up at me 
 Unbowed by white phosphorous, unbowed by bulldozers or dictators 
 Unbowed by imperial America or her attack dogs and satraps 
 Unbowed by hunger or by flood 
 She smiled the whole way up and I retracted the davit arm and lowered the boat 
      into its housing 
 The customs men wore their guns a little higher and were dressed in dark 
      blue jumpsuits and jackboots, they wore white latex gloves, laughed among 
      themselves and barked orders in English to refugees. 
 I watched as the girl left the boat and waited in line 
 I watched as she took the hand of a much younger girl, and together and with 
 all the other refugees they were directed down the stairs to the prison block.

Ciaran MacLennan

MacLennan, Ciaran. By sea they come [online]. Meanjin, Vol. 71, No. 3, Spring 2012: 17-19. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=805176195748687;res=IELLCC&gt; ISSN: 0025-6293. [cited 18 Nov 12].

See also by the sea they come

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