You Were Once Nine

Rebecca Ruvinsky

“I live here,” the boy, careless on the playground, 

shouts when it is time to go home.  


If I were a man, I would not be able 

to sit and stare at the bars 


and swings and slides. If I were a traveler, 

I would not be allowed to be here. You, a man 


who has traveled so far to this 

corner of the world: you must go 


learn (to live) in person, breathing our air, 

while us citizens have the right to be 


cautious. If you stay home, you will be returned 

to the place that hasn't been home for thirteen years. Twenty- 


two in a time when the world rejects 

the air you breathe, the same questions every time you go 


searching for answers as to how you'll start 

a life, now, here. Look up: who were you when you slid? 


Go home. A hurricane is coming. You are flying 

away, no red and white, just blue 

and black.  

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© University of Canberra | Poetry on the Move 2020
Poetry on the Move is a major initiative of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research in the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

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We pay our respects to all Ngunnawal elders - past, present, and future - and to their continuing culture.