Seen from above, the majority of human history
Has been invasions, vast displacements of people.
We, of all peoples,
Should know that.
Itâ€™s like that now, but different. I miss the old days,
Now itâ€™s all crowds at airports, refugee camps;
The world decamped,
With nowhere to go.
The plane takes off. This particular raiding party
Is going to a certain Baltic city, famous for being
Very pretty. We
Are hoping to find
Cute red roofs, bicycles and 21st century designs.
I wish the cabin attendants would hand out shafts
Of sharp wood, shields,
Pagan charms, anything
To remind us that weâ€™re coming to fill our arms
With the countryâ€™s goods, anything that smells fresh,
Art, half-smiles, fish.
We wonâ€™t own the place,
Or even know it; but I wish that we were travelling
With a purpose, that we were going to sate
Our coarse tastes,
Raise oars and haul
Our plunder home, where weâ€™d unwind the fraying threads
Of our own histories and weave in some foreign colour.
If you want new blood, you have to spill some.
~ Jeremy Wikeley
Jeremy Wikeley has spent the last few years in Cambridge, supposedly reading History. In 2015 he won the Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett Prize and was nominated for the Keats-Shelley Prize. More of his poems can be found in the Pembroke College Gazette 2015, available online later this year.