He can be a hurdy-gurdy man, jangling
and cranking his drone for skeleton figures
to totter in a slow sardana. In another guise
he wears a long coat of piebald browns,
and flutes promises of asylum far away,
where beds are soft and walls protect.
He plays at vanishing, returns to tread
field-edge dust, kicks away the dying weeds.
In his wake a cow stands motionless;
its head drags skinny shoulders down,
scant measure of hay long gone,
and a child cries, nuzzles unappeased.
Shadowed by him a hugger-mugger crowd
drags bundles to a drab encampment
where they may be fed. After empty days
they have forgotten what it is to eat.
In presidential corridors he is spotted
dressed in minion grey. He exits the rooms
of braided colonels or ministers of state
guarding a heavy bag, lips tight. And always,
like the hungry he needs to gorge upon,
he circles in and out of borderlands.
He hides in camouflage, sharing fires
by ragged shelters with the prey he trades.
Camilla Lambert. 1st prize. August 2015