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Sunday afternoon on a city beach. No sand, slabs of manufactured stone. I watch two blondes, maybe sisters, Inflate a raft. They use a bicycle pump. One tries to assemble two paddles, Gives up, puts them in her bag. The one on the pump removes her top. She has exerted herself into better posture. Her breasts are larger than I expected. I want to see if their tiny raft will hold them. The clouds and current move north. As they enter the water, Tony Allen warns Against the boat journey: Running away From a misery / Find yourself in a double misery. I recall photos of British tourists in Greece Frowning at refugees, Greek children in gym class while hungry. In the direction the raft floats, the sisters Paddling with their hands, a planetarium. I wonder if it houses a telescope capable Of seeing the double misery on a Greek island. Maybe its lens is too powerful. The side of their raft reads EXPLORER. Their soles are black. If you pay attention To movies, white women have grimy soles. I have seen black actresses with exquisite feet. I recall my mother checking my socks In the exam room before the doctor entered. The sisters let their ponytails drag In dubious lake water. I'm not sure I hear these lyrics: Even if They let you enter / They probably won't let you. Even if they let you enter / The baron won't let you, The baron won't let you. I note their appearances, Takeoff point. Just in case. I doubt any of our thoughts converge. What is it like to be so free? To drift in water in a country you call Your own. Unprepared because you can laugh Into an official's face. Explain, offer no apology.
"Written and titled after a Tony Allen song, this poem was written on a Hyde Park beach. I was thinking about impersonal accounts of the migrant crisis and of how one form of carelessness looks like joy." —Ladan Osman
Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden, forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2019, and The Kitchen-Dweller's Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015). She lives in New York.
"My Dissent and My Love Are Woven Inside Me" by Wendy Xu
"The Sound of One Immigrant Clapping" by Adrian Castro
"Ode to Richmond Hill" by Rajiv Mohabir
May Guest Editor: Matthew Shenoda
Thanks to Matthew Shenoda, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems(TriQuarterly Books, 2014), who curated Poem-a-Day this month. Read more about Shenoda and our guest editors for the year.
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