The Others

They slept and ate like us.
Feral they were not.
The intricacy of their handiwork
bespoke a fineness we’d be taught.

Yet we wiped them out.
It was eerily easy to do,
although they knew we were coming
and knew we knew they knew.

Not only did they not resist
our guns like bloody hacking coughs
in their libraries and hospitals,
their bedrooms and their schools—

they would not acknowledge us.
We felt like fools. There was no keening.
Even the children did not cry.
It was as if meaning

inhered so deeply in their daily
lives we could not touch it;
nor would they quit living to be
slaughtered, it was so inviolate.

Michael Ryan, “The Others” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Michael Ryan. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Source: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)
More Poems by Michael Ryan