In one hand the exiles hold a bundle
with a blanket, medicine, and a comb;
in the other, a door handle.
They attach it to every mountain and wall,
hoping the handle will conjure the door
that will open and let them in.

Through the swamps, down the dirt roads,
through the frigid water the exiles go,
knowing they shall never return.
In their former homes, if there are still homes,
the wind wails. Spiders weave
their shrouds over the cupboards and beds.

Cats, left behind, wait to be scratched under their chins;
a dog smells the scarf a young girl dropped
and barks on the cellar stairs.
Near the road thousands took to flee,
a carcass of a cow still tied to the olive tree,
abandoned like their tea sets and pots.

A widow with children runs from the Guatemalan gangs.
Newlyweds from Syria huddle in a dinghy
in the Mediterranean, their wedding rings sold
to help pay the way. A couple from Sudan
limp along on the scorched ground with their epileptic son.

Those who survive and settle in a new place
sometimes dream at night of returning
by foot to their native homes.
When they wake up, they have blisters on their feet.