They read a poem about a girl
who is forced to leave a war-torn
country, a home swarming with tanks and sunlight.
The teacher asks them what they know about refugees;
what it means to be displaced.
They are shown a picture of a child
washed up on the shore;
the picture which made us cry as we settled in our seats
for an evening meal the year before.
The sadness that it has taken the lives
of children for us to listen, settles;
because the adult lives should have been enough;
and the teacher wonders if the students are still listening,
because as they try to explain
how too many meet watery graves
as the world profits from pain,
one student is quietly crying,
but one is tapping their pen
and another is rocking on their chair,
eyes turned to stare out of the window.
What must we do, to teach them to listen
when a child washed up, face down in the sand,
is still not enough –
for us to stop looking through the transparent glass,
finding safety on the other side
whilst pretending our ears and eyes
What must happen
for us to say enough
and mean it.
Poem: © Kristiana Reed 2020
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