M.A. Schaffner


Wayward Docents

The fading labels were the museum’s
chief attraction. It helped when they fell off.
Then memory or imagination brought
unprecedented interpretations.
A mummy was my great-uncle Clemons.
Tourists stared as my buddy and I talked
of wars and plagues their high schools never taught,
though vital to the progress of mankind.

When I last went through, new labels were there,
with new lighting, sound, and touch-screen movies,
quite frenzied in an interactive way,
and often wrong enough to make me stare.
We were such amateurs, my friend and I,
to love history enough to simply lie.

M. A. Schaffner has poetry recently published or forthcoming in Stand (UK), the Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, and The North (UK). He has also authored the collection, The Good Opinion of Squirrels (Word Works, 1997) and the novel, War Boys (Welcome Rain, 2002). When not writing, Schaffner works as a civil servant in Washington.


Published in Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2009.


Read more by this author:
M.A. Schaffner
M.A. Schaffner: Whitman Issue
M.A. Schaffner: Wartime Issue
Schaffner on Ambrose Bierce: Forebears Issue
M.A. Schaffner: Poets in Federal Government Issue