It was a murmuration demoted from dusk to night-time,
a climb of buzzing cloud, the open mouth of a life-line,
the sparkle of darkness at the end of a tunnel, the vertigo
of a hungry stomach pressed against lorry tarpaulin,
a dirty air windbreak. It was the child, hooded in sleep,
whose swollen leg throbbed like sonar the closer it got
to treatment and whose parents, the locusts, sprung up
with their thighs, mapped with a tight network of tendons.
In some cultures you can pound them to mush and batter
or bake them. You can stew a swarm in butter, lick your fingers,
belch out their hearts. It was life in a soundbite.
It was the smugness of being chosen as the next best thing
to hell. It was a closed window against the din
of an early-riser’s harvest. It was the radio call-ins
from the swarm of cars in Dover, the swarm of tears shed
for a family’s day-late excursion to Boulogne, the swarm
of Daily Mail readers clutching their genitals in climax
at the suggestions of firing squads, machine gun towers
and bullet after bullet after bullet, a swarm of salvos
peppering the sky, a flaming arrow saved for a midge.
It was the easy symbol of a bridge taken underground
where the dead belong by the pipes that pump out life,
the truck that was open like a secret, the belly of the beast
that smiled with yellow teeth and pulsed bad breath
like pockets of warmth. It was a nuclear family turned
radioactive, dangerous to touch, and flagging.