The Great Escape
by Martin Rowson
What if their inner spies had tipped the wink?
Foretold the cruel incompetence of
The callous cranks in charge
And whispered the full consequence
Of the old's expendability?
What if, beneath the cover of Lock Down's deepest anxiety
They'd made a Great Escape, furtive through the hunkered towns
Evading the gerontocide patrols
To secret airfields under clouded moons
To be hissed aboard the waiting, looming airships?
And what if they'd then floated, silent as the streets,
Into the jet streams to be scattered through the safer world?
And what if it took months before their loved ones ventured round,
Knocking on unanswered doors before breaking locks and lock downs,
Simply to find a propped-up, plugged-in phone
Installed with apps to simulate an isolated chat with calls
Made automatically in rotation, a trillion algorithmic permutations
Of familiar inanities, looptaping on Zoom?
What if that vast flotilla then had landfalled,
Tattered near volcanoes, smacked down beside a wadi in the desert,
Silhouetted deflating languidly at the jungle's edge
While its passengers danced with gauchos on the pampas,
Lured lizards to the pot through termite mounds
Or crooned gently with macaques sat in the boughs
Of monstrous trees?
What if? What if? And what if some fifth columnists
Among the shackled vassals in Death's Realm
Had falsified the papers, sent their frailest charges
Through the network of
The Secret Undertaking, trustworthy hearses,
Unapproachable morticians, unfilled pews,
Unwitnessed rites and unobservable cremations
To safety and beyond? What if? What if?
And years to come, mysterious, coded postcards
All from the unlikeliest destinations, unsolicited
And disturbing the still mourning
Are the only, vaguest hint of
The accompanying image is The Triumph of Death, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder