Memorial at the Alcazar in Toledo, some lessons, some truths like shadows, evade even as we watch them unfold

The season seems to match the tone of the news. Leaves fall, framed for a moment on pavement or window ledges before tumbling away. A soft accumulation below and a slow reveal of the underlying structure. So the slip of events inevitably defines perception, gives shape to what were before only isolated glimpses so that the sequence, the links, the pattern is clear.

I read a story last night about a fossil field in Utah so extensive that the owner didn’t have the funds to excavate. Fearing thieves, they buried it. Better to keep it hidden than leave it exposed and vulnerable to the elements. Every few years, a volunteer army of men and women in their 70s and 80s roll back the carpet of grasses and wildflowers to reveal the footprints and bones beneath.

Truth, it seems is like that, at times we bury it not being able to afford to keep it exposed, but, at the appointed hour, a crew is called to peel away the layers and show us the undeniable evidence.

Last week, I walked in Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port. The river has moved and the sea is now kilometres away. The entrance leads through the old necropolis. Arched niches that held the urns, the marble sarcophagi, they hold only shadows now. Tourists under umbrellas moved among the columns that lined the way. They moved slowly, maybe to be careful of their step among the deeply worn paving stones, maybe because of the voices we could almost hear. Shadows lurked in the low doorways and among the brown stone walls pocked where the slabs of marble once hung, they disappeared round the corners in the maze of corridors tiled with black and white mosaics. Only shadows, moving just out of sight, as though the rain bright pictures still called the elder gods. Off the paths, the leaves were thick and vines twisted among the stones. When I paused, the thunder of planes above could have been the toll of ancient surf along the shore, the long spreading echoes of storms rising below the horizon.

I waited, wondering, but all that came to me was the patter of rain among the leaves and the cheers of the crowd at the sports field beyond the line of trees. Truth, I thought, is like that.

Writer, walker, poet, educator. Commercial fisherman, builder, donut maker, organic grower. Boston, U. City, Maine, South Africa, Madrid.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store