Friday, September 27, 2013

Our brief permanences

I inherited three things from my grandfather — a gun, a bust of Robert E. Lee, and a globe. The latter, faded and dusty, a large swath of the Pacific Ocean missing where the cardboard peeled away after years of sitting in a basement, shows a world that lasted less than a year. There's no date but the Mali Federation, a union of Senegal and Mali, existed for only three months in 1960. But here it is indelible like the Aden Protectorate, Dahomey, Australian Papa New Guinea, Spanish Sahara, the United Arab Republic. How like our literatures, these records of brief unions, of governments that split apart, of a world once cohesive but now a memory. But there is something to it, dear reader, to say we were here, this was and it left a mark.

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