The air is rich with
the noise of nimble hands,
feet walking you by,
broken glass
grinding lung and ear,
the grey purposefulness
of weary lives.

Yet speak,
and let us forget
the roll and clicking,
the relentless millstone
whose work is as steady
as the tides
and the seeping
of water to the sea.

and let us wake
to snowstorms in standstill
crystal like, on the edge
of shattering.

To the seasonal to-and-fro
of a yellowish river
- she fed and weaned
through the epochs of man, and choked
on the ever hunger
of her daughterland.

To a breathless dawn
when those to whom sleep came
took it and groaned, and others watched
and preferred wakefulness
to still-born dreams,
receding breath after breath.

Crops at dusk,
love in the open palm of
an afternoon's breeze,
the stool she used to sit on sewing,
all thrown to the ground and

And those who,
alone as featherless chicks,
left a sprawling desert's lapping shores,

we deny them
we embrace them
dismember them

with the righteous determination
of triplicate forms and commuting,
reassuring radio voices
and cornflake mornings.

Suzanne Aigrain, 2003