Speak up, you brave historians.
What have you made of me? – a sop
to politics, a flag to wave
for war’s lost causes, a curious leafpressed under centuries of books.
Absurd! You are the falling leaves.
I am the tree – root, trunk and branch,
the source of myth and memory,
each child’s discovery that time
did not begin with its own birth.
Who gave you the right to take my name
as tourist-bait for run-down towns
and bloody fantasies? The past
you parody is your own script,
re-written during performance.
This obsession with dates and dynasties
has nothing to do with me;
nor has the backward look that turned
Lot’s wife to salt, or the glance that took
Eurydice from Orpheus.
How slow you are to learn! I am
the game you play on God’s best carpet.
Think how it might have looked
had you first removed your boots.