As soon as winter lifts they come,
straggling up from Europe, blank-faced,
bearing the burdens of families, of the diseases
that chase them north from the burning lands
to those that are merely falling apart.
So many miles of ocean. So small the boats
that thread the lanes of iceberg and storm,
upsetting, overturning, sudden frozen death
in the heaving seas that freshwater melt
keeps no less frigid than before.
Faces greyed with suffering. Tiny bodies
tucked into boots and inner pockets. The smugglers
turning south to try their luck again. The shore
a frieze of shattered bodies, splintered wood.
They come north, and we do our best,
here in our slim green habitable fringe
between rising sea and dying ice.
We do our best, but we are overwhelmed,
and there is nowhere further north to go.