World Poetry Day 2017 – Paul Durcan, “The Flight into Egypt”

The Flight into Egypt Peter Chapter 2 I am a living stone, rejected by human beings I live with my parents on the right bank in an up-market suburb of Bassano Veneto. My parents are respectable upper–middle, middle–class myself as per usual I am bored out of my mind in my bedroom in our comfortable hygienic villa fronting the river when suddenly gazing out the window I glimpse a family of travelers on the far bank on the stony hill under the high wood they’re a notorious family of tramps—refugees— illegal immigrants – and wanted. Making a beeline for Ashtabula, Ohio, I’d hazard Clandestinely, I have the highest admiration for them. I can see the father, Old Joe, out front of his wife. He’s gripping a strong staff and he’s tethered himself by rope to a cute, prize-winning ass on which his young wife is riding sidesaddle with a newborn infant in her lap. Good God! She must be half her husband’s age! How fortunate is Old Joe to have such a sensationally alluring young matrushka for his wife. No wonder he is striding out so purposefully. He’s a king who does not know he is a king but she is a queen and she does—in her frisbee halo, she is the epitome of prettiness, of dignity, of wholesomeness; her red hair tied up in a braid across her head but an itsy-bit— more than an itsy-bit—perplexed, possibly petrified; I wonder why. I suspect it must be their constant predicament of being always on the run, always being wanted, hunted creatures, and her infant male toddler boykins clinging to her and yet she’s so surprisingly confident in her casual hold of him. They have at least three young male shepherds with them–members, I guess, of the extended family. All these illegal immigrants have extended families. But no! It is they who on this earth are respectable people–the stars– the superstars–the Big Salt! Comfortable, righteous people like me and my parents are bit-players, literally time-servers. We are so uncool that we cannot see it whereas Joe, his girl, their baby boy and retinue you are the Future of Cool.

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