Choosing work for my Selected Poems was scary and affirming. A history lesson, certainly, but an intriguing reminder of how my poems have evolved and adapted over the years, while continuing, I hope, to ask exactly the same questions: why we are, and what it means to be human, and, more importantly, humane.
‘The Walkers’ was written in mid-2014 when the MH17 atrocity in Eastern Ukraine was casting its shadow over the summer. The tragedy was not just in the shooting down, but also the length of time it took to bring the bodies home. I wanted to let those victims take the initiative. I believe the dead don’t just talk to us, they’re instructing us. Whether it’s casualties of war, the refugee lost in mid-Channel or a killed pangolin in Guangxi – they are all respectfully inviting us not simply to take heed, but to take action. We couldn’t rescue them, but they can still rescue us.’
As soon as we had died, we decided to walk home.
You must understand – we can never be passengers any more.
and his gun. He didn’t see us pass, our light was far too thin.
and when impassable mountains marked the way,
We gathered like craneflies in the windowlight of familiar rooms,