Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp --
but it cuts off there, the rest illegible
rusted over or scratched away.
It's hard to tell what's natural anymore.
The plaque feels heavy in my arms
the corners ragged as clearly it belonged
to something bigger than itself once.
Not for a long time since some looter
or criminal or hooligan or Freedom Fighter
popped it off with some makeshift crowbar.
There are noises - or maybe there aren't -
but enough to stir me to flight.
I squeeze the tablet tight. An edge
cuts into my hand and I fight
the urge to shout or sigh
or lie down and wait.
Later in the semi-darkness
and half-safety of Home
I stare at the words, try to imagine a world
where they meant what they meant
where humans were free.