Archaeologists

Our knives fondle the earth like lovers’
Furtive fingers; respectable beggars
Ransacking tips and trashcans,
We pore over shards and bones, treasures
To fuel our imagination and to send us
On a trip – high, way out of sight,
Back down the pipe, time-travelling along
The ancestral umbilical cord
Right back to Eve.

Through transition and translation,
Traduced, transformed, betrayed,
We unearth our memories, exhume and re-create
The skeletons of our past,
And flesh them with the beauty of the present
And of what we wish had been. We cowards
Can’t revive or resurrect the dead
In their original horrifying state
Reliving all the details.

Oh, what we see, imagine, reconstruct and dream
Has its own reality indeed,
But writhes confused
In its own falsehood
Which is as true as is the claim that
Caterpillar = Butterfly:
The grub contains the beauty of its future
Within its past,
But still the two are not the same.

The sum is greater than the parts,
And for our sanity
We can’t afford to let more than the parts
– just some of the parts –
Survive. We must wait until the final fragment
Of muscle-tissue has disintegrated, dried to dust,
Till gone the feeling flesh, long since decayed
And then we’ll stand the confrontation
With a fossil, or a heap of inanimate bones.

All memory is a dismembering,
A distortion of the facts:
Compose obituaries and epitaphs,
Embellish, honour, glorify and dress
In shrouds of words,
Mummify, embalm, disguise the thing
And call it by the Name it had
But do not dare to summon
The Thing it was:

For out of the debris, buried beneath
The avalanche of time,
May yet emerge the putrid corpses of events
Like the Undead, crawling, grovelling, whining,
Seeking still to live, struggling blind
Through the rubble and decay we pile upon them,
Oblivious of their deformities,
Grinning still
To haunt us with their truth.

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One thought on “Archaeologists

  1. Pingback: Is It Really You? | catterel

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