Kate O'Neil

Kate O'Neil

Kate O'Neil is an Australian writer.

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 23:23

Hosts

Published in Poetry

‘Australia’s hosting refugees’, I heard the newsman say,
and I wondered just how many are received the proper way.
For hosting is a practice where some social rules hold sway,
and a host has obligations to behave a certain way:
all guests should feel they’re welcome (so a guest should never pay)
and if they’re tired and hungry having come from far away,
each guest might well expect to have at least one canapé,
a drink or two and a decent meal. And, for a long-term stay,
a comfy bed, some private space, and things to do each day.
They need to know just where they are in case they go astray -
they’ll need an introduction to the shops and the café,
to the people round about them , to the customs of the day –
you do not want your guests to feel all lost and in dismay.
You do of course expect that there are rules they will obey
but it isn’t right to say that you will meet your guest halfway
for hosting isn’t like that. It’s up to you to say
you’ll do anything you can to help. You can’t say “Go away!”
and if their need is urgent you can’t quibble or delay…

(nor should you hand them over to some quickly hired valet.)