Asylum Seekers

The biggest asylum seekers’ centre is under the ground.
It’s the suicides, the emigrants to the other world,
unaccepted, repressed and tortured in this.
The underground asylum seekers’ centre offers freedom of movement
from the periphery to the centre and vice versa,
three meals a day and a daily pass for a walk.
Asylum seekers have a standard size tag on their wristbands.
But look, the ordinary dead go on hunger strike
against the surplus of suicides around them.
They don’t want asylum seekers next to their neat homes,
they don’t want scattered nooses, empty pill bottles,
bones broken from falling and bellies swollen from drowning.
Instead of scarecrows they plant crosses in their green gardens
for those who dies against God’s will. The asylum seekers
are confused and angry, with one foot dragging backwards all the time.
Some have forgotten to leave a message, others to kiss their daughter,
some have left a suit at the dry cleaner’s, others have not made their wills,
some have not cancelled their journeys, others not made an appointment with death.
And now they are here. With interpreters in the corridor
and folders in their hands they wait to be seen by the asylum officer.
Nationality, sex, religion. Many have fathers,
but no fatherland. Some are allergic to ploughed land,
and unable to kiss their soil, and to depart under the ground.
Some were life-long fugitive from themselves,
with no one to pay for pills to stop them ageing.
Some have squandered their misfortune too, not only their good fortune.
Others have not made love to the love of their life for years.
Some have been killed by their nearest and dearest not with a knife but a needle or forceps.
Among them are people who are alive only after they are dead.
The asylum seekers’ centre is full, fenced off with barbed wire from the world of
the ordinary dead.

I arrived yesterday. Got two passes.
During the day I’ll be in the asylum seekers’ centre,
and at night in the home of the ordinary dead.
I don’t know which I shan’t come back from.

Translated from the Macedonian by Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid

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