Its lack of reaction has made it unique,
that and the way it can magnetize fools:
forty-niners, Midas, the futures mob –
so gung-ho, yet always dazzled by it,
like urchins dreaming of gilded pavements.
Locked in a vault, it validates paper.
It's what the rich cling to when the bubble
bursts, smiling at the rest of us, our mouths
agape, who wonder why what's left
is fool's gold, when the real stuff vanishes.
Acquaint yourself with history, the endless
grubby tomes we've filled. From the Age
of Gold to the Age of Iron, the avalanche
of grief it's caused would make you think
we had gathered mountains of it
when, if we had managed to find enough,
we could divvy up into shares for all.
So trudge across the moonlit ploughland
with a metal detector, unearthing
hoards of coins so hastily abandoned.
Crack open the mausoleums of men
who died like gods and crawl on hands
and knees and belly into the furthest chambers
of open-sesame caves. Circumvent the man-traps,
wyverns, the wall-eyed Cyclops.
And when you've relocated every X
that marks the spot, cart the whole lot back
to a public space: each ingot, trinket,
medal, plate, with every other ounce and scruple.
You will be amazed how little there is.
Reduced to a cube of twenty metres,
you can slip it beneath the Eiffel Tower
or set it up as a glitzy Ka'aba.
The pilgrims will pay to circle round it.
They will never ask where the bodies are.