Tuesday poem: The ones wearing suits

August 17, 2015

 

The ones wearing suits

 

are the only ones with polished shoes catching wedged glimpses of the blue eye sky.  Their ties are well knotted and the women’s hair constrained like ostrich eggs on their heads.  We slouch by, wearing jeans, wearing ironic slogans like brands.  We are comfortable enough to slob; comfortable enough to break traffic laws.  We sip our coffees and flick through sullen mags; our thumbs fidget only on phones. We complain if we wait too long, and swear at meters mouthing our change like madeleines.

The ones wearing suits wait for the piece of paper from the ones behind that other counter (yes, those other ones sometimes wear suits, but beige and grudgingly).  Ah that I could unknot those papers! I say nobly to myself, as I sip my expresso, and watch those queuing, watch those forming a border around the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.  Framing my coffee with their neat ties of anxiety, their perfect, uneasily bunched hair.

P.S. Cottier

ship-went-away

That prose poem was first published in Awkword Paper Cut (US) last year as part of an essay I wrote about writing, the Australian flag, nationalism and immigration, called ‘Mild flapping’.

I remembered it yesterday, as I was flipping through a Real Paper Paper, and came across an advertisement for a senior position at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It is obviously in the HR area, but the title given to the position is ‘Head of People Division’. I read that as the person responsible for drawing a line between those of us lucky enough to be in Australia, and those trying to make it here. People Division with the Border as the vinculum. Call me silly!

The poem above describes Lonsdale Street in Braddon, Canberra, where people on visas of various sorts in Australia go to a branch of the Department, often, it seems, trying to have their stay extended or made permanent. A couple of doors up is one of my favourite cafés, where those of us with citizenship sip our drinks and write poems.

And of course, there are the people we can’t see, locked up elsewhere.

***
I used to do a bit of book reviewing in The Canberra Times. Indeed, I once won $200 of wine in the ACT Writers Centre Awards for a book review, which was damned useful. My reviewing seems to be taking off again. Here is a link to a review of a book about ageing by Rudi Westendorp which was published recently. (Sydney Morning Herald site.)

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.

7 Responses to “Tuesday poem: The ones wearing suits”

  1. Geoff said

    ‘People Division’ sounds like a great name for a band 😉

  2. I like that very much – the shifting perspectives based on the clothing choices (or non-choices).

  3. Helen Lowe said

    It’s good to hear the ‘true’ story behind the poem, which captures a sense of intersecting lines, and lives.

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