History is not the past,
Not facts that occurred,
Or relics unearthed,
Not notebooks in archives, or
The few who could afford them.
History is not names or dates,
White skin and grey hair,
The battleground or statue
Or the revolutionary square.
History is not the document,
Historians’ thoughts or words,
A pledge, a flag, a heritage,
Placards on museum doors.
History is not the memory, or
The lesson worth repeating.
History is the questioning,
Selecting, framing, overlooking,
Deciding, ignoring, reading,
Thinking, forgetting, remembering,
Discovering, interpreting, listening,
History is the creating,
Interviewing, recording, capturing,
Evaluating, reshaping, writing,
Editing, revising, narrating,
Learning, relating, upsetting,
History is appreciatively hating,
Itching, scratching, obsessing,
Reminding, championing, warning,
Hunting the less fallacious fallacy, while
Ever becoming the past.
History appears as yesterday’s ghost
That pleads to know its name.
Whether it is angel or demon,
Its questions lure men into the past
As its powers for present entice.
Seeking to conjure its spirit and force,
Their words encage paper-bound echoes
To haunt tomorrow’s future past.