Silence Land. A poem by Mohammad Ali Maleki

Dear Prime Minister,

The peaceful protests continue on Manus. The children on Nauru still have never walked on grass, only poisonous gravel. Men on Manus are handcuffed and flown to Port Moresby. An elderly, sick Rohingya man was told he must sign papers to go back to Myanmar or he will not be given any water or food. In Myanmar the Burmese army are burning Rohingyas alive. Ronnie Knight, MP of Manus Island, tweets that Toll are going to build a new detention centre on Manus. PNG police arrest any refugees they find unless they are paid cash. Women on Nauru cannot get terminations for their pregnancies while their rapists go unpunished. You are Prime Minister. This is done in your name. This will be your legacy.

Mohammad Ali Maleki fears he is losing his mind now that he is in his fifth year in Manus hell. He writes:

Silence Land

I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.

I yelled for help so many times –
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.

Perhaps it would be good for everything to return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb.
For there to be no sign of me,
for me never to have gone crazy in this place.

What if the woollen jacket I am wearing unravels
and begins to fall apart?
Or the butterfly flies back to its cocoon,
or the autumn leaf grows green and returns
to its branch on that old tree?
What if the tree becomes a seed in the soil –
I sound crazy speaking this way!

It’s the outcome of being detained for four years
after seeking asylum on the sea.

What if that sea returned to its source
and flowed back to the river mouth?
If that river receded back up into its spring?
What if only the sun and the moon remained in the sky?
If I saw even the sun’s birth reversed,
watched it dissipate into space?
Witnessed the moon implode upon itself?

All things returning to their starting place…

How beautiful, to live in a colourless world,
everywhere silent and still.
The earth would be calm for a moment,
free of even one miscreant.

But what do you make of my vision –
am I sane or mad?
— Mohammad Ali Maleki trans. Monsoor Shostari ed. Michelle Seminara