Jessica Traynor

Calais

They came back, you know,
the children of Hamelin,
miles from where
they’d disappeared,

with the worn air of those
who’d walked too long,
whose limbs had knit to rope
from hunger and great distance.

At first, we caught glimpses –
a face at the crowd’s edge,
a figure at the campfire standing
just beyond the reach of light,

dun rags in the ranks
of knock-off Western sportswear.
And when we tried to catch them,
a strange thing happened –

the faces in the crowd
merged until the migrants
began to look just like the children –
wolf-like, hollowed,

their eyes all making
the same accusation.
When the camp went up in flames
we saw them clearly

standing grouped
among the burning tents,
their revenant gaze, their question:
Where is home?

Jessica Traynor’s debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim was
shortlisted for the 2015 Strong/Shine Award. In 2016, she was commissioned to write a poem for the Easter Rising commemorations. A sequence of poems in response to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal is forthcoming from The Salvage
Press in 2017.