November 15, 2016
By , Oshkosh, WI

I stand on a London street, my eyes focused on the large, worn cobblestones.
I close my eyes, picturing the history beneath my feet.

I see a solitary boy
Loitering with long hair greased back and a flat hat perched on top
Leaning with his hands in the pockets of his long grey trench coat with rolled up sleeves
Blaring The Smiths over his walkman headphones as he lights yet another cigarette
Trying to look mysterious and forlorn as a group of girls with hair teased to the sky flit by

I see a young girl emerging from a tube station late at night
Clutching a doll to her pink dress singed by smoke, eyes wide, hiccuping fear
Staring at the pile of bricks across the street where a row of houses once stood
Shaking with a sour mix of adrenaline, uncertainty, and coughs filled with plaster dust
Watching the stars, waiting for shadows to cross them and drop hell once more

I see a Lady
Stepping out of her new automobile with the help of her chauffeur’s gloved hand
Lifting her silken skirts to avoid mussing the hem with the oil-slicked road
Trying to maintain her composure as she steps into the grand town house
Calling on a stranger who would have offered her a wedding ring if there wasn’t a war

I see a suffragette
Eyes blazing as she calls out protests, thronged by her comrades
Missing two fingers on her right hand from years factory labor
Furious of the sacrifices made for fewer wages than her brothers
Hoping that her screams may someday give her daughter a better life
I see a young Queen Elizabeth
Cradling a jeweled crown atop her vibrant red hair
Declaring sovereignty over a country unfamiliar to queens
Relishing in her flourishing kingdom that was given to her in shambles
Ruling over an empire that the sun would never set on

I see a Viking Lord
Sailing open seas to find lands far and near
Exploring all of the known world in the ship that will serve as his funeral pyre one day
Roaring to the everlasting sky as the salt brushes his sun bleached plaits
Barring stained teeth in a monstrous smile when he pictures the home he will return to

I see Queen Boudicca
Running free through her sacred homeland
Leading her people to fight an immense army she feels she can defeat
Clutching her horse’s reins in one fist and signaling a charge against Rome with the other
Raising her voice in defiance against those who built a wall to hold her in

This street has seen as a thousand lives
And may see a thousand more
Someday I hope to hold their histories in my hands

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