A Monument To Loss

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Words: Eve Connor (she/her)

This is the place where forgotten monuments go, salvaged before the moment of loss, never

to crumble or collapse, be ravaged or ransacked. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From

memory, to history, and, finally, to here. Here where everything lasts forever but cannot be

reached — not even in thought.

Some of the streets are cobbled, some are studded with rare gems, some are dirt tracks or

rubble-specked. None are accustomed to travellers. Yet still you are somehow here, the first

to leave a trail in the sand, dislodge a pebble, or smear mud across stone. You can wend

your way through the gaps between gothic cathedrals and ancient ziggurats. You can stand

at the foot of the Colossus of Rhodes and imagine yourself trampled beneath its bronze sole;

or fall to your knees before the Tower of Babel, tongue lolling, dumb struck. You can

traverse continents and centuries in a single step. Boundless potential at your feet.

But to live in the shadow of such wonders exerts a harsh pressure. None of it is yours. Can

you read the script carved across this entablature? Or decipher the meaning of the images

that wrap themselves around that column? How can a place house so much but be home to

nothing, home to no-one? When you walk these streets, you walk alone. Flesh does not

keep like marble or stone.

Alone, within a land not quite infinite but stretching out for more than a lifetime. Countless

bells from countless towers toll asynchronously, each ringing a different timbre, a concertina of

sound unfolding out to touch the horizon. In the pockets between one knell and the next,

silence — or the sound of your footfall, your breath, your heartbeat. The more you strain to

listen, the more certain you are that time cannot pass without someone else to mark it with


You stop and sit at the steps of a church wedged between two looming structures that dwarf

it into obscurity. It is sunset, as it always is, and diffused with the calm that only comes with

the closing of day. You may have stumbled upon eternity. Trapped at this age, in these

clothes, and with a cut on your arm that will never quite stitch itself together. You should trek

on, seize the opportunity to see it all and find the very end. What would be waiting beyond

the sprawl of history? Eden, hidden at the heart of all we’ve lost?

It is not. One day you will reach it, after more years searching than you can comprehend.

You will trudge on as the landscape becomes sparser, as the distance between one

monument and the next takes longer to cross than it does to explore. You have given

up rushing, or hoping that you have found a final place to rest. Each time, you know,

something else out there awaits you.

You walk as if asleep through a flat expanse of desert, convinced that this trudge will prove

endless, when you come across a bundle of wood. It is small, inconsequential amid the

vastness of sand but it calls you as its witness. You kneel and try to discern its significance.

It does not hold the magnificence of what has come before, but after so long surrounded by

wonder, it takes effort to recognise beauty. You focus until you see a spark. A lick of fire

beneath the twigs and branches. It grows brighter — and, yes, the sky grows darker in turn.

The sun sinks below the plain for the first time and rises as the burgeoning fire.

You stay, enraptured, so close you could burn. And yet the warmth is like the touch of a

hand. Your skin, that for so long has been as impervious as stone, softens to flesh, and once

again you can feel your tears as they roll down your cheek.


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