The Marooned Mirage
(aka Refugee Fantasy)
I first saw you
Branded by the unyielding light
Out of the haze and dust
Amidst the brittle remnants of pasts dispersed.
The camp is suffocating in its size
Intimidating by its nature
Swollen to the horizon
We are as worthless as the shattered concrete
We left behind
Like the rest of the crumbling unwanted souls
Yet I am despised more by my own
For being today’s arrival
Tomorrow it will be my turn to condemn.
A hierarchy dominates
A once valued loyalty is for the fool
A neighbour is merely your closest enemy
Yet we all dwell beneath the rounded ceiling
That is torment
Keeping us in
Caged without walls.
You were waiting behind me
Deeper in the gangling line
A mere spot on a centipede
With your battered water container
Precious, yet unable to serve its purpose
A symbol of your dire trials.
I could ill afford a diversion
My mouth crisp
With the frenzy for relief
The offspring of depletion.
The wailing of the children
No longer tears at my heart
They merely present iniquitous competition
Renders exotic concerns void
An impossible luxury.
Despite the lingering decay
And the whispers of oblivion
You intimated to me
Without a word
In the only language
That makes any sense
In this prevailing chaotic mirage
An illusion too inhuman to be palpable.
But as time turns against us
And what’s left of my family awaits my return
The cold descends again
To remind us that she is Master
Malevolent but almighty
And we are forced to respect her rules
More honest than those of men.
I cannot surrender my station
In this sluggish bedraggled worm
As there are affairs
And though I turn to the front
And hope to find you again
Amid the bursting muster
I wonder if I will have the capacity
To do a thing about it.
(An alternate version of this poem first appeared in the collection, Caged Without Walls).