Alex Comfort | Books | The Guardian

Seeing the news film

Consummatum est. It will long since
have been finished. You who walk
from the screen’s edges into the dark have gone
outside our pity. Finished days ago –
that road now empty. And yet one of you
looked straight at us, who hid in time and space
and warmth and food behind the round glass eye.
One turned her back. A child carried a child.
A child ran searching, will always run. No sound
out of his desperate oval mouth – what we have written
we have written: nothing will change it. If
we shout Look, she is there he will not hear.

So passing us whose tender pity wraps
the infant princes and the baby bears
behind the glass of the lens you did not ask for
pity or revenge, only an answer –
Why you? Why we? You did not say
You too, it shall be so with you – before
democracy’s fat glad commentary
hustled you out of being. You stay with us
an after-image of the colder light
on a white ground, dark – on the white ground
dark, beside the path, a liberated child.

And I the child will run always, but never knowing
a senile general and ten frightened men
for whose prestige I, suddenly lost,
being four years old, and seeming
after long searching to have fallen asleep
am here, cannot be buried. In this immutable dream.
Once we could kill people and they would die.

This is the record, this is finished. Wash
that from our fingers, if we can.

— Alex Comfort, January 1951

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