Twenty-First Century Flint Mary Leonard

Twenty-First Century Flint

What is underneath
                sometimes rises to the surface.
They say that in heavy rains
                at Treblinka,

                                bone shards rise with the clover
and in the summer, hornets make their nests
                close to the ground

as if to protect the dead
                from scavengers.
Learn from history, they say.

Have we ever? And so why
                go under. Leave it be
like flint for the archaeologists

Let them discover in measured squares,
                rinse and sort
                                and then proclaim, we cannot

find the narrative for these people
                who worked in towers
but whose Special Forces rode in flowing robes
                                across Afghanistan.

Every image sits with me
                like a whisper turning into a hiss,

I stop this, erase my cynicism,
                blot out my personal notes,
                                become tidy,

take control,
                but I don’t, can’t, even knowing
                                at any moment I could be blown out

a window, diving
                toward erasures I don’t own.
My fears rise to the surface,

                even if I want to bury them,
                                or delete like e-mails,

not wanting them to become something more—

                twenty-first century flint,
                                debitage of my place and time.
Bury them. Sprinkle hornets’ nests to hiss
                at those who might hold history

                                in their hands,
Smoothing it over, saying
                we could learn from this.


October 2002 2River