Standing at the edge is the great Multitude.

They inch forward in their rags and hunger.
   Their movement along the ground lifts
   the sound of ancestral migrations.

They are carrying the dark water of need
   in their eyes; they are carrying the first
   vowels, the first consonants,

But their mouths are silent, and watchful.

And the great scavenging wings hang over them;
   the raven eyes hunting among the muteness
   of the winding cortege.

Beside them are the pools filled with the specters
   of famine, civil war, drought—

They become one body, a muscle of need.
   A testament of want.

And night—which is always upon them—rides them
   like the wild horses of the storm-filled plains.

They will inherit the earth only when the final
   pilgrimage is done.

For in this life, the crystal lake and the great sword
   of understanding, raised high, will not show
   them mercy.

Far off, in the West, a light burns brightly. But
   it is not for them.

Copyright © 2013 by Ellen Hinsey. Used with permission of the author.