‘When he had proved to them
that knowledge is innate’

 

 

 

When he had proved to them that knowledge is innate
his part within the dialogue was done. We do not know
his name, only that he stared in wonderment; his answers
to the leading questions marking stages of a proof.

Perhaps he went outside to his unfinished task; you sense it,
but you wouldn’t know. That he was a slave was nature
to him, and unquestionable, as real as his hand or mind:
an incredible belief, to another age, where slavery goes

by names much less direct. Maybe he stood in sunshine
watching shadows lengthen, pondering the depth
of what he had not known he knew, and, seeing through
the method, finding that each question gets the answer

that it prompts, that enquiry is a formal etiquette
which tells as much about the unthought mores of its time
as about the world; a rubric in a double script
civilizing senses slenderly; easy to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

A Lens to the sun - titles and first lines