Swiss National Day in Lavigny

Michael Hulse

for Sophie and Tatiana Kandaouroff and Jens-Martin Eriksen

Cities burn, favelas rot, the starving walk for water,
              elections are rigged and revolutions hijacked,
                            tanks are deployed against the people—but
                                          here the children walk with lanterns

along the lane between the grocery and the château,
              they babble past the church, they know the life to come
                            is this moment, this one, this one, and this,
                                          here—catch! They are the life to come

as they prattle and scatter across the darkening field.
              The language of the speeches says “audacity”
                            and “tolerance” and “solidarity”
                                          but while the parents clap and blab

the children are inheriting as the birds inherit.
              They are not bankers, vintners, civil servants; they
                            do not spin or toil; they skelter and skirl
                                          in polities not of the world

that their parents inhabit with their grown-up words and ways.
              How hard we have striven, all of us, all these years,
                            millennia, to make the happy place:
                                          for that is the end of all we

think and all we do—a village much like this, where a bonfire
              burns, but neither books nor men. Is this the good life
                            that makes heaven pointless? This still remains:
                                          to become as little children

skittering fast and light in the peace of the night.

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