After the riot

‘Order has been restored … breakfast has been served.’
– Scott Morrison when interviewed after a riot on Manus Island

And what did you eat for breakfast, Mr Morrison –
after a silent grace to thank your bountiful god?
All-Bran? Or, as you are visiting Darwin when the news
breaks, a platter of tropical fruit? Papaya cut like a sickle
moon, and lady finger bananas peeled clean, soft flesh
unmarked, satin on the tongue?  Next, toast spread thin
with Seville orange marmalade? Makes your lips pucker,
that sweet-sour taste. And coffee? I imagine a demitasse,
a short black to wash away residual sweetness. A little
bitterness won’t hurt. Then time to wipe your mouth
with the damask napkin, take the toothpick provided
for a little extra grooming. One cannot be too fastidious.
Now practise that expression: smile, then tighten lips
and belt and stride out to face the querulous mob.
Cut a swath through all the messy business, solemn
tone, dispense the usual platitudes (sympathy to the family).
But keep it rolling, no time for irritating questions.
Or any hint of the Good Samaritan. That would be
irrelevant now order has been restored and breakfast
has been served.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Ann de Hugard’s publications include A Question of Translation (Australian Poetry Centre) and Breath (Mark Time). She is the coordinator of the Castlemaine Word Mine, a centre for readers and writers.

More by