None of us are from here,
some forebears chose
to board ships, others were taken.
There was a desire to flee,
to make war, colonise,
to do better, in whatever way.
They root us to our home,
explain, advise, warn:
you came from this.
Since their arrival
we have tried to ossify,
become visible, belong.
We remember them,
© Ben Banyard
Quarantine the Past
You notice the smell first.
Unmistakably eau de charity shop,
a mixture of attics and box-rooms
leavened with mothballs and airing cupboards.
The ornaments are a shock,
the idea that anyone might have bought them,
brand new and pricey, like those porcelain
abominations you laugh at in Sunday supplements.
There are the usual pulp paperbacks,
Dan Brown, E.L. James, John Grisham,
but now and then a book from left field
which will easily repay the couple of quid you spend.
Here and there, among the beige garments,
some items leap off the rail and tell a tale
about how they were bought on a whim,
worn once, or never, consigned to what was I thinking?
This riot of fashion, literature, movies, household paraphernalia,
all discarded because a week or so ago
their owners looked at them and the space they occupied
and whatever fragile bonds they held were cut.
Back home, kettle on, look around and ponder
how much of what you own could be happily sent away,
or taken from you in the dead of night?
How much of it would you really miss?
© Ben Banyard