trying not to revise the past

BrokeDown Palace is a history in poetry. The history of the hospital I worked at, and the history of myself and the people who came before and along with me to build it. I was there for the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s. Right now, I've organized the poems by decades and those are by far the fullest. But in a certain way they're harder to write. If I write about the world of St. Clare, for whom the hospital was named, I can build a world from distant history. Maybe it's the way it was or maybe it's not, but I'm not revising it trying to please my picture of myself.

You were born in the Mongol years/You could have met the son of Genghis Kahn./Eleven years old when the crusaders sacked Constantinople/Who were you? A noble child, wrenched by love/of poverty in her rough tunic/St. Francis in the moonlight, eyes like torches . . .

When I get to poems about the 1980s, I have to fight off the desire to improve my past. In light of what came after. It takes so many drafts to get beyond this, and I don't know if I always do.