The Rohingya Migrants from Myanmar by Molly Sutton Kiefer

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

    We assumed that danger would come, but there was no other way.
        We were living in a country that is more dangerous than the sea.

                            — Mahammed Hashim


How long must a boat stay in place before it is declared a country? See all the roped
arms reaching for packets from the sky: the ocean is dizzy with swimmers, frothed
from the army’s helicopters, men propelling food to men.

Collarbones necklace the sheerline. Children tether their mothers with gangling
limbs. The trawler is bearded with barnacles, flecks of black and grey.

At night, the boat people slip shrouded bodies into the water, ululations rising to
meet constellations. There, the Southern Cross, an x-marks-the-spot, following every
waking move, as if these ray stars are part of the warning: not here, not here, not

Close your eyes, then. Tell yourself: there is no boat, there is no water.

Photo of Molly with baby Maya

Photo of Molly with baby Maya

Molly Sutton Kiefer is the author of the lyric essay Nestuary (Ricochet Editions, 2014) and two chapbooks of poetry. She is co-founder of Tinderbox Poetry Journal and publisher of Tinderbox Editions, which will launch in 2016. More can be found at