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Clare Pollard - Yarl’s Wood


Yarl’s Wood
Clare Pollard

You want a minute of not being
wired to watch out? A tray with tea,
the children playing: hushed, happy?
The touch of kind hands, family;
a little money, security?
             Why not come to Yarl’s Wood
             to be taken care of?

We know that you’re restrained,
a modest housewife in her burka,
but the dark is wet with torture
and you’re emptied out by fear -
brave the plane, the gate, the wait,
             get yourself sent to Yarl’s Wood
             to be taken care of.

For we do the watching for you
and we have a million minutes
full of nothing but hushed children,
little money and wet tea,
and there’s touching in the rooms
             behind the wire of Yarl’s Wood.
             You’ll be taken care of.

At the gate we’ll kindly empty
all your life onto a tray.
The walls are high-security.
No, you won’t want to get away -
you’ll board the plane restrained
             if you’ve been to Yarl’s Wood,
             but you’ll be taken care of.


Clare Pollard’s fourth collection Changeling (Bloodaxe, 2011) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her new translation of Ovid’s Heroines (Bloodaxe, 2013) will be touring as a one-woman show in 2015 with Jaybird Live Literature. Her website is

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