Syrians Cairryin a Makeshift Bodybag

In the photae, the twaa men wear face masks.
Despite the fact there are nae heidlines wi a warnin
tae bide indoors or tae practice social distancin
they are traivellin wi aboot six fit in atween them

In that space there is nae room for hysteria
at the hundreds o thoosands o warldwide
cases o Coronavirus

as they haud ticht tae each end o a makeshift bodybag
for anither o that number fa have already died in Syria.

Their een trained awa fae the waxen an bloodied fit
stickin oot, sae they can keep their grip, as they cross
the bomb craters an rubble, against a backdrop
o decimated tenements.  Them that hiv facades left
ther windaes as hollowed oot as the lives
o almost fourteen million displaced people.

Amon aa the confusion for those fleein tae safety
is the hostility meted oot by Western countries
fas inhabitants hiv been practicin social distancin
fae the reality o oor common humanity, for a whiley.

An forbye, ahin aa their rhetoric, foreign governments
hiv been playin petroleum politics in the Middle East
for even langer.  Noo it's Syrian fowks turn tae become
the incidental victims we dinna wint comin tae oor shores
wi cap in haun as if we hiv onyhin tae answer for.

The twaa men, the topography o their bodies a map
o the daily journey across this war zone,
cairryin the corpses o ordinary Syrians histories
defy the logic that wad hiv us shy awa fae sic bloodshed
relyin instead on the instinct tae traivel hopefully
aye coursin through oor veins.

Lesley Benzie

Runner-up for the McCash Scots Poetry Prize 2020
Published in the Herald Friday 2 October 2020

Winner of the McCash Scots Poetry Prize 2020, Sheila Templeton, will introduce Lesley at the online Seahorse Saturday event on 14 November 2020. Sign up for a place to hear Lesley read some of her poems.