August 29, 2016
September 6, 2015
The room has been turned inside out
As if all set for a well-made play.
But this is a scene from Amatrice,
Venerable town unmade into rivers of rubble.
Only a handful of party animals
Heard the ‘evil murmur of moving walls’.
Most residents were asleep in their beds
Until the beds rose up and cast them out into chaos.
Things we had thought…that ought to stay
Put, striking out on their own behalf
Implacable as toys turning murderous at midnight.
But must we resort to fables and nursery tales?
Or shall I compare thee to the movement of migrants,
Relentless as dust, or the Euro-Border-Crats
Careless of casualties, dismissing fatalities,
Tossing back refugees like so many sticks of furniture?
1. East to West
Swaddled in tin foil, stranded on the seawall straddling Italy and France, refugees from 1970s glamrock, obviously. Or perhaps Gregor Samsa’s younger siblings: insects already; further metamorphosis forbidden.
Salt-blasted and skin peeling after days at sea in an open boat, the girl’s face is patterned like a leaf.
Three proud women on the beach at Kos, pointedly not looking at the photographer. Mother suckling her baby, then grandma in the middle; at her side the younger daughter with film star’s pout. All told, three pairs of lips pressed firmly together in a silent snub – thumbing the eye of the camera.
The logo painted on the side of the refrigerated lorry shows slices of ‘Hyza: honest chicken’ (pretty in pink), twirled round to resemble a rose. By any other name….. Butthe cooling system had died, and putrid liquid was seen dripping from the back of thevehicle. Next morning, the ‘coffins’ sent in to contain human remains were more like sealable sinks.
2. Wessies to Essies
A warm welcome they made of it: the German townspeople of Oer-Erkenschwick setting a precedent, greeting their coach load of migrants with cheery sunflowers; among them burly bloke in hi-vis vest – Westphalian version of white man van, standing firm against what’s expected of his xenophobic type (supposedly)
3. West to East And Back Again
Zahera Tariq and her four children had exited England via London City, the upmarket airport designed for business travellers. But they were brought back in through thebreeze blocks of down-at-heel Luton, where Burger King counts as fine dining. Alleged to have been migrating to IS before she was stopped and detained in Turkey prior to repatriation, Mrs Tariq may not have noticed the difference. Appearing at Camberwell Magistrates’ Court charged with child abduction, piety was her paramount concern: she refused to stand when Judge Susan Green entered the courtroom, saying her religion required her to sit. Speaking of child abduction, the four smaller Tariqs have been taken into foster care, even though the husband and father was the one to blow the whistle on where they were going.