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Making History

I’ve been looking over my shoulder
as I’ve been screwing in these screws.
I’ve been punching the clock in history,
putting in my time. I wear the blinders
I was fitted with at my mid-century birth.
I want to laugh at how I’ve been fooled
into counting with imaginary numbers.
I’ve been stretching my neck out, I’ve been craning.
It just breaks my heart what I can see of them,
those last remaining, those bones
spread out on the table for analysis,
those daguerreotypes of the disappeared,
those abandoned out-of-service stations.
I’ve been told history’s mouth is wider
than a galaxy, and it keeps swallowing–
big fish moving through its feeding grounds.
I draw cards. I drive. I dust. I dig.
This is what it asks for, what it orders.
The way it keeps exposing itself is heartbreaking:
the last remaining who must keep recounting
their story, those lovers’ inscriptions in yellowing books.
It casts a long shadow before me
that moves when I do. It changes form daily,
a master of transfiguration.
It deals out nostalgia as its drug of choice.
Those were the days. Were the days, it says.
It says, "please," it says,"Simon Says".
It loves to toy with my memory that way,
loves filling me with longing for all it’s put
out of my reach. So I move in its direction.
You can see how sick and complicated the relationship is.
WHAT have you done? What HAVE you done?
I am so angry I spill the bucket I am bearing
only because it asked sweetly.
Then it retracts its claws and begs for pity.
As I said it is a master of transformation.
Then some days, I am so grateful I fashion
an exquisite artifact–the gift it loves the best.
And some days, it breaks it, breaks it.

–Jeanne Marie Beaumont



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