Monty Jones: Contemporaries

The ordinary thought
is that our contemporaries
are now alive during our own lives.
But look at this stone axe,
or trace your fingers
across the red paint on this rock
where a deer can still be seen.
Or read the Odyssey, Book XXIII,
where Penelope realizes
that Odysseus has come home.
Or witness Lear, mad in the storm,
or listen to Maria Yudina playing
Mozart, say the Fantasia, K. 475.
Who will not find these lives 
overlapping with our own, 
their time our present moment?
Who will fail to recognize 
the hands and the eyes
that shaped these creations?
The same as in the far future
when something, or its robot,
even from a distant world,
sifts the jumbled remains
of an archaic streambed
or at the mouth of a glacier
and finds what it believes
to be some trace of the human,
something from our own time,
from this city before it burned,
something we could not take
on the long road to the north,
our only hope then that someone
would come to value it
as we did in our day,
let us say a square of bronze
stamped with five words
from the Book of Ephesians:
“Be kind to one another.” 

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