Great beasts of burden, tended by the strong
Old wise folk, some with brood
Followed in huddled groups of five and ten
Laborers, craftsmen, water carriers-all
Bent silent under a scorching, mocking sun.
At seldom times, each looked up from his feet
Which left but shallow footprints in the sand
To gaze, tear-eyed into the desert wind.
Silence prevailed throughout, disturbed alone-
By the sound of straining animals and men.
They plodded on, as ere, mysterious, grim, determined.
Several times along the way, Caravan met Caravan
Traveling opposite ways, still silent and detached
No exchange of words, no waves, not a glance
But like huge blinded turtles, passed each other
Blinking, straining toward the horizon-
As if “there” life would begin; as if “here” it had ended.
All processions look the same, and perhaps-
The last one passed was passed before
Yet eyes saw not, minds detached, bodies moving mechanical
Nor was there day nor rest at night, for even-
When they could not see, they strove toward a dark horizon.
-p (Attributed to Leonard N. Shapiro ~1950)