Proxy Means

Zoë Hitzig

A test. In a morning
Blue suit the Census taker
Drops his credentials
And picks them up

By a lanyard
Gingered in the red dust
Between his shiny black
Shoes.

The eyes in the village
Hide. In cupboards from
The glinting wink of the sun
In the Census taker’s shoes.

The laminated Census
Taker marches to procure
Evidence. Evidence of
Need. Evidence of

Mistake. This Census
Taker for Satan—
He tells them what they have.
What they need
To mean and promises
Protection. Proxy means
Need. The Census taker
Enumerates proxies for
Means. What stove,
What kind of stove.
How much kerosene.
Take your identification
Card. Take care.
Do they really make televisions
So big. How much kerosene
Per month. How many deaths
Occurred in your empty
Cupboard. Don’t look
At the shoe. Who
After all is living.
Here.

Zoë Hitzig is a doctoral candidate in economics at Harvard University. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, New Statesman, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, and elsewhere.
Originally published:
October 1, 2018

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