A Short History of the Deported

by David Chorlton

They came from all directions, first
the east, then the south, then they seemed
to come out of the earth itself
and after they had left came back
with the same bad habits they took with them
when they doused their fires,
folded their tents, and asked the moon
which way they should go next. It was sad
to see them go, taking music with them
as they, for whom coins were decorations
in their hair while others fought
over money, wandered through time
to a tune that expressed
dark powers and beauty. They arrived
when nobody was looking. At first
they seemed romantic, in the way
the footloose are to those weighed down
with duty and belonging, but soon
the roses fell from their skirts
and left thorns in their laps as they sat
looking off into the future
and it made them weep. They who needed
nobody saw how nobody
wanted them close by and neither
were they wanted at a distance, as examples,
as it were, of the freedom
people speak of in a time of fear.
Now they’re gone. It is very quiet
without them, but in the places where
they used to be, fear became a way of life.

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