Poem in which the anthology’s lacunae are accounted for

The Emperor who ordered history reset.
The Emperor who ‘read ten thousand scrolls
and still this day arrived’, (his overthrow),
‘that’s why I’m burning them.’
The chickens roosting in the library during plague years.
Carelessness with tea stoves. One fire still unsolved.
The governor who made
his gibbering cousin head librarian.
The roof unfixed.
The crack that germinated
from a thumbnailed placemarker,
and the caldera of blotch which wrecked
the scrolls we moved by barge
the year they changed the capital.
All of you who went on feeding the monkeys
after we put up the sign.
The retrospective censors, multipliers
of edict and decree, cheerleaders for decency.
Our vanished caretaker’s suspiciously bulging lunchbox.
That endless winter.

John Clegg

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