Calais

by Dilantha Gunawardana

The still eager faces
Amidst flickering lantern-irises sapped of hope
After all in this ‘Jungle’ near the North Sea
Where there are no cakes or bread loaves
Just memories of Marie Antoinette
Unlike a faraway land called home
Laden with golden grains of durum wheat
As prowling eyes search for a glimpse of Moses
Or a staff – which keeps slithering far in to the horizon
To divide a few thousand acres of brine
– After all the promise land is found
Only once one crosses the bloody sea –

Here muscles and tendons – that could hold a smile
Collapse to the sullen and eyeballs
Shift inwards to entertain the frowning brows
There’s a small Eritrean girl called ‘Hope’
Around whom – like a bonfire – people gather
Searching for a flame
Or even an ember of faded hope

The echoes linger on
Like the voices of grandparents and elders
Who were left behind – too fragile and too cumbersome
For an intercontinental journey
And the laughter that was shared
Around a meal of hummus and pita
Yet stealthy voices labor on in shenanigans
– After all every refugee is a holder
Of a de facto Schengen visa –
To search for a lorry or container truck
To drift towards Dover

This was once the route of Julius Caesar
On his biremes, and here in Calais
Every refugee holds Julius’s fate
– To be erased from history in one stab of kismet
Or to look far beyond the beautiful coastline
From a lonely beach in Dover
And whisper the words ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ – I came, I saw, I conquered –
After all, there are no magical bridges over troubled waters
Just acres of graveyards beneath
Where no tombstones will ever be found
Only hosannas of eulogies
Sung by the north wind.

 

Calais

Print Friendly