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No place like home

February 5, 2021

A poem by Mardijah Simpson

Last spring I watched a house martin
weave a nest, round as a thrown bowl,
in exquisite symmetry,
balanced on a bare branch
of the lemon scented gum.

Then in the night the wild winds blew.
Next morning the nest had vanished,
no sign, it was nowhere.
I could not believe it had ever clung
to that round smooth branch.

"Foxes have holes
and the birds of the air have nests, 
but the son of man hath not where
to lay his head"
Nor the woman her head.

Walking up Martin Place
blank black hoardings hide another bank.
All signs of last year's homeless camp -
gone. No beds, no blankets, no home
no safe place, no one.

Where did they go
all those lonely people
those wanderers 
flotsam/jetsam/scraps and 
crumbs of society?

Under the arches on Eddy Avenue.
Tucked against stone walls
are bed rolls, blankets, bags.
A man stretched, asleep in the shadows
beyond the bus stops - waits.

Every year high in my tree
the magpies re-weave their nest.
In the jumbled basket of twigs
the hen rides out the storm winds swing
till the chicks are safely cradled.

High above the town near the show ground
by the lookout onto the river
a small haven bloomed under the tall trees.
Until show time
then the council chucked them out.

The broke's camp broken - the homeless moved on.
They disappeared into the shadows, the hills,
women and children sheltered in cars,
the fearful and their dogs vanished into caves
the disabled into despair.

Summer is fine for camping
young people take off to the mountains
and lie under the stars
but when you are old and stiff
you worry about next winter.
Feature image: Birds-nest. Photo credit: Serafima Lazarenko - unsplash.com

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