Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)

Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)
Prize Winning Stories from NOWW

Sunday, March 30, 2008

CLEARANCES by Ulrich Wendt

The Highland clearances, the expulsion of the Acadians,
Shaka Zulu and the myth of empty Africa, all these things
have made me think again about the ridiculous story of original sin.
For who now lives but on dust and bones of lands long cleared of others?

Well now, Samuel, you cute little zygote,
I can hardly wait to show you around the dusty old place
being, for the moment, happily self-deluded that I am showing you
an unmarked country, trying to imagine how it will feel to be you blinking, dumbfounded, thunderstruck at everything that is absolutely
brightly shiny untouched and new.

No need for you the need to forget the rousting out
of those inconvenient folks who – having come before us –
built their dykes and farms where we wanted to be, planted their orchards
of which a single apple-tree now old, bedraggled,
blooming only every second year and even then bereft of fruit,
beside a hut long razed, remains.

For from the first day after the slamming shut of the gates of Eden,
this is what all of us have been hungry for – to walk amazed among new flowers
on empty land that is ours for the taking. You, having freshly popped out,
won’t have to work too hard imagining with the First People
the heart-thumping feel of cresting a hill in Alaska or the Dardanelles, say,
and spread before you the new valley – oh my god!- all full of the most fantastical
honey-coloured fields of grass and herds and herds of dinner on the hoof.
Paradise again, perhaps, through the back door.

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