What’s that noise? a man asks his wife.
She walks to the window. The sound of feet,
thousands of boots marching in unison.
I can see nothing, the woman tells him.
The man joins her. Nothing, he repeats.
And the smell—think of the smell of one
unwashed body, one unwashed uniform
and increase it a thousand fold. The man
closes the windows, but still the smell
sticks to their skin, clings to every part
of their house. What is it? the man repeats.
Their voices are no more than a whisper.
They can hide. What’s the point of hiding?
They can run. Why bother running?
They feel defeated by the world’s terrors.
They can turn up their radio and dance.
They can play cards; they can drink gin.
They can make love or fight one another.
They will hear it even still. A fly crawls
across the window. The man squashes it
with his thumb. Like them, like them.