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POETRY Normal by Kevin Higgins

I wouldn’t have you back,
with your nice houses and good schools
on the better side of wherever.
You installed (or tried to) in each of us
the tendency to come out in a loud red rash
on the days we could find no-one to be better than.
You were always issuing updates.
We downloaded them in our sleep.

Normal, you’ve made the world
a place nobody belongs.

Even our hugs and handshakes –
now banned under plague-time legislation –
became a thing transactable on Instagram.

For you are more savage by far
than the guy who spends his evenings watching otters
be decapitated on Youtube.

Even the woman across the road’s premature last breath
is a stock you might invest in.

And though you’re not exactly dead –
those whose only contribution
would have been to steal earrings
off children obliterated in the blitz
before the bits had been tidied away
are, as ever, on the lookout for something to nick –
we see now your fabric unwinding until it’s
string we can remake
any shape we want.

Normal, you’re just a script
given us by the Publicity Department
which we acted out for so long
we believed
you were all there ever could be.



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