Poetry 5

The Retreat

What if tomorrow you wake from your jolly dream of a carnival
of rabbits in a deserted shopping mall and you find the human
world is a hush? You and only you are the last one speaking.
The trees still shout for the clouds, the seagulls still mock
the crows, the sparrows still gossip, the sheep still mumble

like musical statues, the chestnut horse still snorts as he gallops
in Zen circles, the wind still mutters through the tender
bamboo and the waves still moan on the shore.
You flick TV stations but find only white noise, the silent
charade of News Feeds. Painted mouths move in parody

of conversation. Some try harder than others. The Snow man
with the kaleidoscope ties tries the most. Every
now and then he manages a faint grunt with a cacophony
of hand gestures. Some locals attend a sign language class.
Their new communication skills have caused deaths

at the village surgery and shopping is a lottery.
Your neighbours are resigned to a quiet life. After all,
that’s why they moved to the countryside.
Every midnight you stand in the street screaming
fuck off,
over and over but only the wind joins in.