“Lynette, don’t dab that man”.
A shuffling stops and glancing down I see
an Eastern princess gazing up, a hand
that steers an ice-cream cone aside, a face
that someone copied from a scroll (late Tang
perhaps) and then a proffered tissue. There’s
a wiping for a while. The mother smiles,
apologizes quietly, takes her place
behind me in the queue again. The child
shrinks in beside her elder brother and
the millipede we form creeps down the stairs.
Millenia dissolve. Four eyes look through
the history they share. A bowman kneels,
the boy reflects his stillness and the two
related strangers meet for moments. Waiting
now I look for recognitions — things that bring
the man who cast the archer and the tall
and Levied school-boy closer here. A slow
half-woken memory perhaps — a stirring thing?
He turns towards the lady from the painting
“Tough eh, Mum? But someone’s nicked his bow”.
So much for racial memory. Now the queue
convulses, turns and crawls across the hall.