Liminal path

Field 305

In the calcified esplanade, planted in the ground without any shelter, exposed to an astonished light, a small pinwheel of faded colors is animated by brief gusts of wind. It spins lopsidedly and whispers circumspectly the forgotten names now dismembered, imprisoned in the small plaques chewed up by time, eternally provisional testimonies of a day replicated always the same and oblivious to everything.

Animula vagula, blandula
hospes comesque corporis,
quae nunc abibis in loca
pallidula, rigida, nudula,
nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.*

Publio Elio Traiano Adriano (Italica, 24 gennaio 76 – Baia, 10 luglio 138)

A rolling murmur spreads a rosary of names carved, engraved, marked. Evoked with modulated respect, conforming to benevolent norms.

“I do not accept empathy merely because I am recognizable to your ceremonials.”

This she affirmed on that unique day, in a time that seemed suspended only for her. Hurt by exhortations such as “She must learn to abide by the prescriptions of common sense,” she resented the too many words that, like unstoppable canonical hours, stood as obtuse erasures. And then after all, what is the destination? Just past Camp 305, the area referred to generically as the “northern border.”

The small crosses, uncertain and wobbly like little tin swords at the end of a game, are stuck in the dry, dusty earth. For those little fallen ones, many of them nameless, have been affixed at best like little stuffed guardians. In loneliness, brutalized by the weather, they have mutated into coercive seals, marks of infamy of a foreign world. Little fallen without honor, little shadows escaped from the great story that had betrayed them. Only the uncertain pinwheel, alive in the wind, whispers those names swirling aimlessly. And spinning on command it indisposes that common sense to which it does not conform otherwise than the narrative of life.

Little soul lost and suave,
Companion and host of the body,
Now you are about to ascend to places
Colorless, arduous and bare,
Where thou wilt no longer have the customary amusements.