Somewhere they arrive. They are visible.
They become present to whatever was there.
Their talking and groaning and shouting
augment the sound echoing and fading
in that place. They take up space.
They make themselves felt. Their feet
make impressions in the dirt. They change
the scene by being part of the scene
and part of the change. They are centres
of energy, points of awareness, bulks
moving over the ground. They are all
different and alike. They are here
at this moment, their spirits merging
with the indigenous ghosts, their genes
moving into positions on ancient
chromosomal chains, encoding
characteristic details of generations.
Some disappear soon. Some stay on
to become parts of a pattern
that grows more stable before it too
begins to change. It is neither good
nor bad. It is flux. It flows in waves
and engulfs us all, a mystery we try
to write down, and call it history.
A continuous sense of disorder and confusion descends and threatens my life. My desk is covered with papers that I do not want to see. What will I do with them? What will I do with all this information? I want only to do my work, but how am I to begin? How will I deal with the beginning that occurred yesterday and the beginning that I completed two years ago and found again last week? How will I fit all these beginnings together? How am I to accommodate these numberless endings? What am I trying to do, and to whom I am trying to do it? Perhaps we will come to an answer or two before we are through, but I cannot guarantee it. You are free to browse these pages, but I cannot answer your questions because I am too busy answering my own questions and posing new unanswerable questions. At this moment I know only that I am here and that others have been here before and have left something for me, as I leave something for you. Time is a ritual exchange, though the gifts move in a single direction.