After reading that Iraq is sending about 2,000 refugees per day to its neighbors and reflecting on the Sudan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, I found, by happenstance, a poem by the poet Wislawa Szymborska:

Some People

Some people flee some other people
to some country under a sun
and some clouds.

They abandon something close to all they’ve got
sown fields, some chickens, dogs,
mirrors in which fire now preens,

Their shoulders bear pitchers and bundles.
The emptier they get, the heavier they grow.

What happens quietly: someone’s dropping from exhaustion.
What happens loudly: someone’s bread is ripped away,
someone tries to shake a limp child back to life.

Always another wrong road ahead of them,
always another wrong bridge
across an oddly reddish river.
Around them, some gunshots, now nearer, now farther away,
above them a plane seems to circle.

Some invisibility would come in handy,
some grayish stoniness,
or, better yet, some nonexistence
for a shorter or longer while.

Something else will happen, only where and what.
Someone will come at them, only when and who,
in how many shapes, with what intentions.
If he has a choice,
maybe he won’t be the enemy
and will let them live some sort of life.

                                             –Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh


From  Wislawa Szymborska: Poems, New and Collected 1957-1997.  New York: Harcourt Brace and Company.