News is full of people we don’t know and
whom we never wished to read about or
think of every day, but they insist: we see
their images while we flick through pages
as we sit in waiting rooms to hear how much
time we have left. They have eternity and youth,
and we have neither. Sometimes, we imagine
they could age. They never will:
their photographs will cease or learn to lie.
And so their lives will have no end.
Beauty such as theirs is their concern.
We have enough to do without them,
but they haunt us, much as we know we
are dead to them and they are dead to us.
Could we exist when they go missing?
Could they suffer? Do they talk of being human?
What on earth is that to them? Their sole
appeal is to our longing for no change:
we are unworthy of their presence, feel our clay
begin to crumble when they walk into a room.
What were we doing there? We share so little
with them that we can’t believe we’ve seen them
in the flesh where we do not believe they live.
Often we declare we want to die when they appear.
I heard the news: it’s on again:
We’ll lose our names, we’ll never eat
An honest pie with mash and peas
If we don’t cut the country down
To size. His size. We’ll have to shrink.
An island here, an atoll there:
They won’t be missed. The answer’s clear:
We’ll go platonic, pure idea,
Like terra nullius incognita.
History never happened here.
Now you see us, now you don’t;
There’s nothing here that’s girt by sea.
There’s no such thing as refugees.
The map’s a fiction; nothing’s true.
I don’t exist and nor do you.
The mantra works: the daily news
Informs whoever cares that queues
Of camels specially bred for size
Are galloping through needles’ eyes
And overcrowding Paradise.