Imtiaz Dharker

"These Are The Times We Live In"

You hand over your passport. He
looks at your face and starts
reading you backwards from the last page.

You could be offended,
but in the end, you decide
it makes as much sense
as anything else,
given the times we live in.

You shrink to the size
of the book in his hand.
You can see his mind working:
Keep an eye on that name.
It contains a Z, and it just moved house.
The birthmark shifted recently
to another arm or leg.
Nothing is quite the same
as it should be.
But what do you expect?
It’s a sign of the times we live in.

In front of you,
he flicks to the photograph,
and looks at you suspiciously.

That’s when you really have to laugh.
While you were flying,
up in the air
they changed your chin
and redid your hair.
They scrubbed out your mouth
and rubbed out your eyes.
They made you over completely.

And all that’s left is his look of surprise,
because you don’t match your photograph.
Even that is coming apart.

The pieces are there
But they missed out your heart.

Half your face splits away,
drifts on to the page of a newspaper
that’s dated today.

It rustles as it lands.

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