Andrew Harris


                                     For Lama Qasem

Three years ago
before we moved here
I would never have
talked to you
like this.

But my daughter’s
first friend in Australia
was Israeli
and her mother
was mine.

So here we are
sitting in the sun
and I am
talking to you
like this.


You know
my mother
used to take us
from Jordan
to the border.

You would sit
in buses for hours
and then
they’d take your bags
throw them in a big pile.

They’d make you
take off your shoes
throw them in a big pile
take off your clothes
throw them in a big pile.

Then the body search
you would lose your shoes
in that big pile
so you would wear slippers
you could lose.


I was a kid  
just a little girl
you know
the humiliation
it was the humiliation

all these soldiers
are pointing at you
with guns
and you don’t know


You know
my father’s brother’s son
he took compensation
for his land
for our land.

My father’s brother’s son
took compensation
for our land
and my father’s brother
shot him in the head.

Andrew Harris is a writer and photographer with roots in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He lives with his wife and their two boys in Melbourne. He won the 2020 and 2017 Dorothy Porter Prize for Poets in the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award and the 2018 My Brother Jack Open Poetry Award at the Glen Eira Literary Awards. Andrew’s poetry has been published in the Journal of the Anglo-Somali Society and is to be published in The Grief Diaries. His travel writing has been published in Roads & Kingdoms.

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