The context of this poem: last summer I was invigilating an exam, which means walking up and down aisles of students working in silence for approximately one hour. There are only so many ways to vary walking up and down aisles and I have lived a relatively sheltered life. Consequently, about ten minutes in, I felt so bored that I thought I might die. I wrote half of this poem in my head to pass the time.
I am obsessed with the zombie genre. One thing that I feel makes zombies such a great antagonistic force is that they are relentless due to their lack of fear. Nothing deters them, which makes fighting zombies a waiting game until the hero slips up: their survival is never a reflection of the threat but of them. With this poem, I wanted to switch it round and imagine from the perspective of the fearful, fearless force. The idea of something that used to be human sitting and waiting in the dark for days on end and not minding really gives me the creeps.
I also had never read any poetry about zombies before. If you are reading this and know of some, please send me a link!
There once was a man
He fumbles vaguely at a shelf
And uses it to raise himself
Up from the mess of dust and sheets
Where he has spent these last three weeks.
He’s had no cause to move at all,
But now he hears the siren call:
A distant rustle in the trees,
The far flung whispering of leaves.
To look at him where he is sat,
In ragged clothes and blood stained hat
Alone: you may near pity him.
He does not long for finer clothes.
The only desire that he knows
Is hunger. And it drives him now,
Out to the woods, he knows not how.
He does not fear the forest’s pitch;
Hallucinates no wolf nor witch.
The only things of which he’s sure:
He knows no fear; he must have more.
A surgeon in his former life
He’d had a purpose: kids, a wife.
She’s wand’ring too, some other where,
Matching her husband’s lifeless stare.
He’d weep at the cruel irony
That has become his destiny:
The man who lived only to heal
Has turned life’s toil into death’s meal.
Ten miles away in terror’s grip,
His daughter’s biting on her lip.
She’s hiding in a leafy tree,
Where – in childhood – she picked cherries.
That rustling sound it came from her.
And travelled to his lonely ear.
She’s waiting now. She’s seen how strong
Is his hunger. He won’t be long.
It takes a day but then he’s there,
Below her with his deathly stare,
This man that groans is not the same,
As he who chose her Christian name.
The girl knows that the time is near
To enter the realm of no fear.
Her father can see her no more.
His desperate eyes and champing jaws
Will wait for her; he does not mind.
There is no boredom for his kind.
With this in mind and on a whim,
She drops herself clean down to him.
And as his teeth mete out her blood,
Betrayal of his fatherhood,
She wishes he’d see what she sees.
The burden of her memory.
Morality lives in this tale,
Of what goes on beyond the veil:
That while the good hold goodness dear,
Remember: evil has no fear.