THE PEOPLE WANT

by Jo Thompson

Hard to look, hard to understand
the softness of his drowned bones
rocked here by the waters.

How quickly banners can catch alight,
a mumble in the crowd growing up,
becoming certain of itself: the people
want to topple the regime. All’s parched,
and everywhere the green sickens yellow.
Outstretched hands wither into fists.

The country in its fever bucks. It is
too hot for the people, who are dying,
who are hungry, who cannot live to watch
their children blister.

At the border, a hand comes up like a wall.
Its fingernails are clean. It is pink
and soft and sorry, but no. There are too
many of you, dying.

Perhaps the call was mistranslated;
the people want your jobs, your homely
patch of land, the benefits of a breeze,
and water falling kindly.

Perhaps the crash of waves muffled
their dying voices, but the shore of
England reads clear enough: the people
want to live.

Poem on the Syrian refugee crisis. Featured image: 3 year old Aylan Kurdi, whose body was washed ashore in Turkey after the dingy taking him to the Greek island of Kos, capsized and Aylan, with his five year old brother, Galip and their mother, Rehan drowned with at least a dozen more.

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