A Brief History of History
I stayed at a motel near some
old battlefield or other.
The morning weather was all ghosts…
of soldiers apparently.
What wasn’t transparent was turning gray.
I sipped strong coffee in the tiny lobby,
read the morning paper,
wondered which of the reported wars
would have its own historic site,
its own cheap motels,
some time in the distant future.
A roadside in Iraq? A stretch of Sudan desert?
A United Nations building in Kabul?
The day was bleak
but at least the reenactment wasn’t cancelled.
Old men dressed for the civil war
fired blanks at each other
from behind the trees.
An ancient general rode in on a horse
with sagging back.
The beast reminded me
of Rocinante, Don Quixote’s steed.
And wasn’t this all windmill tilling anyway?
A few clumsy lunges to represent brother against brother.
A feeble feint for or against states rights.
A mock joust and a few pretend dead…
as if the real dead could give
a severed arm, a bloodied chest.
And then it’s a keychain. a postcard,
at the souvenir shop,
overpriced burger at the concession stand,
another night at the motel
watching a news channel…
history in the making.
Ah history…the names, the dates, the franchising.
- John Grey