Lying abed, drifting down the river of stars
That cross between the lands of Sleep and Dream
I had a strange and curious fancy.
I saw before me –
A grey and iron plain
With grass all withered dry, blessed with just one tree
Bare branches lifted to an iron sky;
The skeleton of a tree, more than a tree.
The barbed wire on posts went to the horizon
And came sweeping back again
In lines as orderly as soldiers on parade.
And all on that grey plain was a mass, a horde, a multitude
Of people; grey as the air, grey as the sky
With the grey of hopelessness in their eyes.
Ragged as the day, they stood in straggling lines
Or quietly faded away.
And there before them, I
Like a god, above them all
And I knew I had the power
Of life, of death, in that grey plain,
The power of gun, the power of my pen
The power of the badge upon my chest,
To give, and to take away.
They looked at me with frightened eyes
And I had charge of their lives –
And I was beautiful.
And they –
The dregs of the earth –
Nigger, Jude, Untermensch, Hadji,
Gook, Injun, Raghead, Spic
The beggar with the ragged coat
And the two-legged beast
Wearing a kaffiyeh in black and white.
They were not beautiful.
And I wiped them out
From the field
Under my shining boots. They vanished
With hardly a cry
Like fog in the morning wind
Ugly, dirty, hopeless
They deserved to go.
And then I stood
Victorious on the plain
But there was nobody to see
Nobody to fear me
I was no longer
Copyright B Purkayastha 2014