For Jess

The boy lights a candle
and faces a perilous horizon.

He pulls on his socks, his boots
and picks seeds from between his teeth.

He will leave before dawn.
His sisters are asleep
and he will not wake them
because he believes that dreams are fragile
and shouldn't be disturbed.

The boy is not alone.

He is one of millions
across the broad black beyond,
enacting the ritual of leaving,
the ritual of

So to the cities they come,
over roads and highways of waves,
where coral reaches up like a migrant
connecting the stars
into maps of deliverance.
Suitcases blackened
with the sweat and smoke of transit cities,
of roasting meat over hot rocks
and the diesel perfume of foreign docks,
they pass memories like bottles of wine.

The great displaced,
starboard side
in waters that know nothing of them,
tasting strange languages and lands
harvesting hope with ashy hands-
the children
of fractured communities.
The moon
a sullen orphan
who guides them to reefs of light
where progress is the catchcry,
and each soul is swept towards
at all costs.

Just because there was no gun to your temple
does not mean you were not forced to leave.

Villages and family ties disappear
then re-appear freshborn and shining in our myths,
daubed on the doorways to ourselves.
The countrysides
become plots for our nostalgia,
sown from afar,
flourishing with orchards of memory.
Each tree laden with fruit,
each fruit a repository of dreams
where real orchards no longer exist.
They are unmapped places
dedicated to everything we miss.

Do we speak too highly of the past?
Were the times not difficult then?

How do you fill the missing spaces?

The boy lights a candle.

He pulls on his boots
and faces a horizon
as heavy
and perilous
as chance.


View this poem on The Disappearing »