The Given

By Nick Laird

At first they took the gift of smell. Oh well,
we never used it much though once or twice
it let us know we hadn't lit the gas.
We bit our tongues then said ‘Yes, help yourself.’
It is accepted we're losing our senses.

Last year they came, unpeeled each ear. Oh dear,
we couldn't hear the cars come near and once
or twice we got ourselves in accidents.
At night we fingertip each other's breath to check.
We held our tongues then said, ‘Here, take the rest.’

On Tuesday laws were passed to snatch our taste.
It's no great waste. Our appetites and cigarettes
had put those tastebuds to the test so as for us
we swallowed tongues then shrugged to say ‘Go right ahead’.
As long as they stay, we sit on our hands.

Days diminish. Today they confiscated touch.
We can guess how hot the water is,
and in darkness estimate the distance to the bed.
To accept these losses, we cover our faces,
then scratch ‘Be our guest’ with a fork on the table.

And then tonight they came for sight. We knew they might.
A minute back they turned into our street.
The door we've blocked with books now shakes.
We play them tapes we had prepared
then hiss and mouth our tongueless chorus.

But of course they cannot see of course.