The walk to school

A response to Occupied Lives, a pictorial essay by
Sophie McNeill, published 6 June 2017

A gravel trudge in early morning;
a walk to school on a day like any other
for five wide-eyed schoolgirls
in these southern Hebron hills.
Do they observe the perfect blue sky,
the hilly stretch of tussock grass,
the curve of the valley?

Or do they watch their own shadows,
or others, longer
that lurk behind occupied windows,
around occupied corners, down occupied alleys?
How many schoolgirls lose their will, their way
skirting threats and malice on their walk to school?

Now, these five stride along,
clutching satchels, escorted by their occupier,
an armed vehicle in front,
two rifled soldiers behind,
who guard against their own.
While five girls walk to school.

Carmel Summers


Carmel Summers escaped from Sydney just under three years ago to live in Canberra. Carmel writes poetry, lots of tanka, and is working on a verse novel for young adults. Her book, the last day before snow, was published in 2016. It is a collection of collaborative tanka, written as responsive sequences with eight Australian tanka poets, including Kathy Kituai from Canberra. She is currently preparing a collection of poetry, free verse, prose poems, some of the Japanese forms and an adaptation of traditional forms such as villanelle, pantoums and sonnet.

© 2017