End offshore detention #224

Dear Prime Minister,

"Tears of Stone" is by Mohammad Ali Maleki, poet, gardener and prisoner, detained illegally by Australia on Manus Island.

Tears of Stone

The land of this island
is a hot, dry desert.
The colour of its soil
is yellow and red.
The waves of its sea
croon a soothing song.

The ocean shimmers
like a rainbow.
The birds of its jungle
sing gaily.
The colours of its parrots
are renowned around the world.

They brought me here forcibly.
I came to this land with no choice.
It doesn’t have rich soil –
They threw sulphur
so no flowers grow at all.
It’s true I am a stranger;
I have no one here.
I can’t trust anyone
with my heartfelt words.
That’s why I created my garden.
They laughed, saying, that’s impossible,
because of the dry, sulphured soil.
But a single, beautiful tree grew in my sight.
A faraway old, old tree…
Its bark was rotten
but it grew in good earth –
They threw no sulphur there.

I filled buckets with this soil,
pouring it onto my sad patch of land.
I did this for many days;
I felt helpless, doing it on my own.

There was a big stone
on my dry land.
I tried, but couldn’t dig it out.
I left it, finally, where it was.
When I threw soil there

I would push it with my hands,
smoothing it around the stone
until the ground grew level
and ready for seeds.

I asked many people
for seeds to plant in my garden.
They said, we can’t afford that!
You are a prisoner here,
we can’t give you seeds.
I had no hope.

A week passed…
While tending my garden
I saw that a bud had sprouted beside the stone –
I was so happy I kissed the bud!

But my bud was weak,
in need of water.
I asked, what should I do, God?
Here the water is salty,
it will hurt my bud.
I had no sweet water to give it.

God didn’t love me enough
to rain on my garden.
So I spoke to the bud
and told it not to get hopeless.
Days later, when the bud was exhausted
an idea came into my mind.
I sat by the bud’s side
recounting my bad memories
and weeping down onto its soil.
It was my task, every day,
weeping onto the bud.
It used to drink my tears –
We both had no choice.

One night, I went to cry for my bud.
I tried so hard but couldn’t weep.
The stone was my witness!
I wanted to give tears to the

bud but my eyes were dry.
What should I do now?
I was angry with myself
for having no tears
left to give to my garden.
I was disappointed in my eyes.

Suddenly, I heard a sound.
I didn’t know what it was.
I searched the whole garden
and saw nothing there…
but when I went to my garden in the morning
I saw water everywhere!
I looked at the sky –
there was no sign of rain
and all the other earth was dry.
Then I saw that the big stone in my garden
had a cleft right through its heart.
From the hard centre of the stone
a stream of water ran out.
From the source of this stone
my garden was flooded and fed.

My bud became cheerful
and turned into a flower.
After a few months, even a rose grew!

My dear, sweet stone,
I will love you forever.
I wish many people
could learn from you.
I wish they could learn
as you did
how to soften
their hard hearts.
— Mohammad Ali Maleki