every night, the same dream

the stink of diesel and of fear which
everyone’s pretending is not here
because if they do not name it, it will not be real
but in the hot bodies of the strangers pressed
around her she can feel
the tension of a panic only held at bay
like sea-sickness, with iron will, good fortune,
muttered prayers
inshallahinjesusnameinshallahinjesusname
they rise and fall, jaws clench and clench again
she is one of hundreds, women, children, men
crowded together, huddled, packed tight in
each has just room to breathe
a space no bigger than a coffin
and something is wrong she knows it
feels the rising terror
with each lurch of the trawler
she knows this was an error, a mistake
a wrong turning that was made
when all other roads were blocked
and the price that must be paid
won’t be measured out in crumpled dollar notes
but in the treasure of her hope
and then the boat
tips a little someone screams
water swills around her ankles
there is a scramble
for the hatch and those who can
kick and punch and fight their way out
but she is going down
blowing bubbles of her dreams
and even as she drowns
she tells herself
she paid her money someone must save her
she paid her money someone must save her
she paid her money someone must save
and Katie wakes in bed
salt water on her tongue
the smell of death around her
wonders what she has done wrong.
© Steve Pottinger 19 April 2015


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