History is where dates fly around your head
like butterflies in a field.
It’s the failing custodian of man’s memories.
History tells us who won and lost wars and why.
It tells us who was in charge and how they earned the rank.
History is names spelled correctly
and evidenced mementos written in fancy script.
History is where you close your eyes
and imagine the clothes, the hair, and the accents-
where you learn new words in foreign languages
which you can’t pronounce.
If you don’t read history well, you may end up in the wrong army.
History is where you have to memorize all those dates,
but they’re meant only for tests and then you forget the details.
Find this country or that country on a map
and history becomes geography.
History shows the harebrained penitence of some
who should have never ceded,
and the articulate enumeration of the bravest of our kind.
If you ask your grandma where she was born
and she starts to tell you about the land of her ancestors,
does that make her a historian?
© Linda Imbler
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