THE FORGOTTEN FILES

There are too many dates,

Too many marked days

On tattered calendars lying in bottom drawers

Of rusty metal cupboards,

Days marked out in red and black and deep purple

For memorial services and candle marches.

You don’t give them names,

They are numbers in a death toll,

Statistics and coloured bar graphs in a presentation

At work or in forgotten files,

They are blurred images of photographs

Next to flowers leaning on cracked walls,

They are the manifestations of your fears

For your loved ones,

They are newspaper headlines and

Random names in well-designed paragraphs,

Written and edited and filtered and scanned,

Copied and copied and copied

Until one reaches your doorstep, crisp with newness,

To go with your morning cup of chai.

They were lives and humans,

Flesh and blood and warm breath,

They were wives and husbands,

Family and friends,

They were happy and sad and anxious,

They were feelings and desires and love,

And they matter beyond your realm of selfish care,

They matter because they were them,

Not because they could have been you

Or someone you knew.

They are more than what you imagine,

Human lives behind the shadowy ink of print,

And though it was them that faced the fires,

It is your vision that is blurred by the smoke.

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