Sunday, November 30, 2008

Graham High: LOST CITY

a trowel probes
the stones of the lost city—
and then the sun

Something Freudian about it, this digging up the past. As I watch the excavator at his work I am reminded that archaeologist and psychologist were both careers I was attracted to in my youth. This man painstakingly sweeping a small amount of dust with a very small paint brush is probably my age. Has he done this all his life?

digging in the sun
the archaeologist
peels layers of skin

I realise that I’ve lost the urge to conserve and record. I no longer even keep a journal – perhaps I’m too busy. History is for the young. Maybe the past can only be taken on by those having a sense of new beginning? When history has slowly absorbed you into itself the sheer weight of the past can only be stultifying.

pinned to the earth face
the neat hand-writing of the

He pauses to take a photograph. Then he unpacks a sketch pad and pencils. This I can relate to: this fixing of his find in the momentary circumstances of the day; the particular configuration; the tones and shadows. This, if anything, is what I’ll take away, this concrete image of a place and time. The sheer beauty of it, held in the singular changing light. A fleeting impression broken now by a few sudden heat-spots.

he draws the ruin
of two thousand years—
rain on his sketch

I savour the scent of the warm droplets on dust, embrace the present and move on.

by Graham High
Blackheath, West Midlands, England

No comments: