Source: Wendy Pratt
Wendy Pratt’s outstanding poem Here, is a juxtaposition of how radically different our lives are by comparison to the refugee.
It is visceral and there is a sense of movement, deftly conveyed in the last two lines in the first stanza and the first two in the second.
The Temple of Bel is a reference to a monument which stood resplendent amid the ruins of Palmyra for almost 2,000 years. It too has been destroyed. Bel in Akkadian meant Lord.
When I read of the ‘chiller trucks’ in Pratt’s poem, it evokes vivid imagery of the anti-rooms at Auschwitz, used to store bodies during the early part of The Holocaust.
All good poems end with a verse which affects the reader in such a way that we are compelled to reread. Pratt’s poem does exactly that and it comes as no surprise that she has been listed among The Forward Prize commendations.
Here is the foot-touch of pebbles,
the churning water round the knees,
the same churning that’s been roiling
for a hundred days at sea. One hundred days
in a dingy that’s lost its breath. Here
is the second step up onto land. The clasp
of hands, the lifting to his shoulder, his son.
Here is the movement of hip-bone,
knee-bone; the ball joint that has circled
home and walked this way for God knows
how long. Here is a wheelchair, pushed
across a continent, a pair of trainers
worn right through.
Here are the desperate: the crowders
the fleers, the freed, the half lost
homeless who fall forward, then recede.
Here is a chiller-truck filled with the unlucky
dead. Here is the dread. Here are the headlines:
plagues and swarms, here is the news
on the very next page, the smoke billowing
up from the temple of Bel, and somewhere
on Facebook, Hell: a Syrian street,
a rubble of lives, defeat.
From here, we watch Nat Geo
In our plump, English rooms, and wonder
how the holocaust could ever have been
ignored, could ever be denied. And here
is the answer, and here and here and here.