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The shielding

By: Alison Fell

The Poem

The dead don’t count themselves as a crowd.
They congregate on street corners, spread
their elbows on the Underground.

In Tesco’s they sidle past the stripped shelves.
They are neither hoarders nor helpers.
They don’t understand the concept of scarcity.

The dead wonder what all the fuss is about.
They clap soundlessly on balconies,
eager to join in the carnival.
The dead have no table manners.
Please and thank you are unknown to them.
They drink Beaujolais straight from the bottle.
You offer them bread but they hold out for cheese.

The dead are allergic to email.
While the city streets are deserted,
the thin air is choked with cyber-traffic.

The dead won’t be locked down.
Multitudinous, as mists are,
shimmering, they hide in plain sight,
ubiquitous as birdsong or blossom.

The dead don’t ask directions.
Like sheep on the mountain, they find
their own way, passing their knowledge
down through the generations.

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