Sunday, April 23, 2017



Imagine years with serial numbers
ground off in the hands of ancestors.
An assassin kills an arch-duke.
A pyramid is built in honour of
a mediocre ruler. A double-agent
walks twenty miles through enemy
territory to warn of an impending
attack. Brown shirts goose-step
through city streets and no one
is laughing anymore. History
takes it all in calmly. Interviews
witnesses. Reconstructs a scene
from a few clay pots and ruined
adobe walls. A stone altar and
a pit full of skulls. History says
don’t eat the pickled herrings,
or go boating during a storm
off the Gulf of Spezia. Sometimes
history cannot solve the crime. This
results in a hung jury. The script
is Minoan but untranslatable.
A sea captain returns to an island
but all members of the colony
have disappeared. A marriage
sails into a port of call but no one
is on board and the captain’s log
is missing. History fails to make
sense of what happened. How did it
capsize? The past without a curfew.
No wonder history is panning for gold.
A few shiny grains is all we ever get.

By Chris Banks

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