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History Lessons

Pat Lowther
From:   Time Capsule. Polestar 1996, pp. 191-92.


1.    A family legend:
        my great-uncle Johnny
        came back from the Klondike
        diamond-fingered,
                            pearl-pinned,
        gold in all his teeth.
        He never put hand to shovel,
        or panned a stream:
                            he opened barber shops.

2.    Eliza McCain,
        height five foot one,
        when the government ordered striking coal miners
        (and everyone else) off the streets of Nanaimo,
        threatened to thrash a six-foot militiaman
        with her umbrella
        or, if he still stood,
        to go home for her husband's horsewhip;
        until the poor fellow,
        fumbling his hat and rehearsing
        alternative explanations for his superior,
        let her pass
        with shopping list triumphant.

        Unfortunately, the stores were closed.

3.    In 1945, in Japan,
        walking alone,
        Private O'Day
        came to a hillside temple,
        saw in its delicate carvings
        swastikas twining around the door;
        smashed, with rifle and rock and muscle
        (stone chipping, lacquered wood splintering,
        gut-lovely sounds of destruction);
        till with the return of breath
        and binocular vision
        he saw the symbol
        as it was really
                            old so old
        so much older than the thing he hated.


Pat Lowther's works copyright © to the Pat Lowther Estate.


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