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Sarah Watkinson - The Ruin of the State

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter

The Ruin of the State
Sarah Watkinson

Although I’m stateless, am I not a man?
Your feet and mine stand grounded on one sphere.
I hear you say you’re doing all you can –

but let me speak: this towered shanty town
was where I ran to earth, pursued by fear.
War made me stateless; am I not a man?

The rooted burgher, trustafarian,
and well-found families deep-rooted here,
believe the council’s doing all it can.

Fleeing the flames, a father ran back in
for one of his children thought to be still there.
Both are lost now. Was he not a man?

In God’s name, pull the blackened, damned thing down,
sell the rotten City, clear this char;
and build for humans now. We know you can –

or else, each sight-scarred boy, when he’s full grown,
unloved, untaught – but fed all right in care –
will think himself a proper Englishman
to let the stranger burn – because he can.

Sarah Watkinson is a plant scientist and her work has appeared in The Rialto, Antiphon, Litmus, Under the Radar and various anthologies. She was a winner of the 2016 Cinnamon Press poetry pamphlet prize and with Jenny Lewis of the Poet's House Oxford she organises an annual science poetry event, SciPo.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter ([email protected])
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