Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Barbarians

The Barbarians

Barbarism can never triumph over civilisation: barbarians are inferior to civilised men and women. The conquerors cannot be barbarians, then, despite their high fires of books and the wire round the transit camps. We must be the barbarians.

It is true that we resemble civilised men and women, relaxing on the sidewalk of a potholed street, warming our spare hands on chipped cups of tea, enjoying our lunchbreak, enjoying the break in the rain, sharing our rations of cigarettes, our rations of gossip.

Each of us remembers the day the guns grew hoarse, the day the whole town had to stand to attention, the day Olaf forgot to close his shop, refused to stand outside, on the dirty kerb, while the conquerors called their roll, the day that Olaf got dragged out of his bakery, away from his half-kneaded sculptures – his half-finished masterpieces, the busts of loaves and croissants arranged on steel trays – the day Olaf’s knees hit the kerb together and the fists went into his mouth like bread.

Each of us remembers Olaf in a different way. One of us scribbles poems – witty satires, and tub-thumping polemics - and publishes them in his drawer.

One of us keeps his grandfather’s pistol in a shoebox, under the bed in the spare room upstairs. One of us turns tadpoles into frogs, in the bathtub he is forbidden to fill. One of us drafts orders for new consignments of boots. One of us supervises a thesis on Nietszche.

We lean forward in our chairs and watch a train push out of the barricaded station, past the emptied zoo, toward the city wall. We note the pine windows but wave anyway.

Perhaps Olaf is crouching in the third carriage, in the warm crowded dark, pushing his fat face against the wood. Perhaps he is a squinting through a crack in the pine, through a sliver his big fists made.

A poem meant as a show of solidarity with Snowden - to the extent that these things mean much in blogtopia.

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