No Disposals


Download PDF

Sandra Sarala

Subverse Protest Time Capsule

from an Offshore Zeit-Traveller

every Berlin winter I light my pale jade Kachelofen with books
found on the street, discarded, no longer treasured
cremated in the service of apartment heating

coal-fired, not to be made illegal till at least 2026 nor its heavily subsidised fuel phased out till 2035
no, don't believe the German government's greenwash (nor anyone's)
their power of propaganda learned from forefathers

who also burned books they did not dote on
who in turn spawned spies creating massive binders of neighbours' intimate movements, findings
which proved impossible to shred overnight as changing winds churned up a fall of wall fall

instead of cover-ups
or uncoverings
I make new books with the covers

where it is tradition to destroy the past and have it haunt us
the tiled oven flames make screwed-up-ball ash ghosts of authors' hard efforts
tearing too, red hot through stick-bones of tight-twisted multiple pages, the fossilised lignite ignites

glowing oh so cosy, radiant through the slow-release brick and tiles
the optimum spot for snuggling up to read, not those littery lettered skeletons, instead
today's beloved magazines, paperbacks and tomes

in Welly '92 our Unemployed Training Trust big class field trip was
to do Alexander Turnbull and National Library too in a journalism students' learning clusterfuck:
two buildings, one morning

how to use their revered bookly, photographic and numerous other whispering archive resources
how to edge wide-eyed round the Tiriti which most of us then called the Treaty
how to be worthy researchers for all our days ahead

returning to the National, I scoured records for the old Racing Conference Building where I lived
its curved Victoria-Wakefield corner glass made to measure and imported in one piece from Italy
long before the magical energy-hungry internet, going to the National is what you did

another time, on a long-haul trip home when that was still possible
I met an old friend for a glorious summer lunch in the sheltered plaza adjacent
thinking for sure I'd be able to come back again

it may seem nothing to do with the future now but when making to leave in the past I ditched stuff,
talismans of personal history – books, records; talismans heavy or hard to store or transport – for
future me had no idea what could or might be counted in time ahead as irretrievably lost

and here I am there
etching a little reminder message into the hard monumental foresight wall
saying, you never have any idea what future yous will need or want

Sandra Sarala
Photo: Kate Seabrook

Sandra Sarala is a New Zealander living in exile in Berlin, where she is theatre editor for the listings magazine Ex-Berlin.