Lost Tribe

There is no record why they left these valleys
And died like flies with their cattle in the southward desert:
There was no war,
No drought or want pushed them into migration,
Yet sand sifts through the ribs of a vanished people
In the violet evening of the southward desert.
A few perhaps came back
After dry wandering years.
And found strange shepherds piping to fat sheep,
Dark bearded men speaking an alien tongue,
On the green mountainsides above the remembered river;
And being too weak and proud to claim their lands,
Went out again into the southward desert
And died in silence where their fathers’ bones
Lay like a question in the arid sands.