by Patience Mackarness
Please imagine following the Via Appia Antica past tombs and shrines, into imperial Rome where your soldier forebears drilled in preparation for the conquest of damp, savage Britannia at the arse-end of the known world.
Track their footsteps over the Alps and up the Rhône, through vineyards and lavender fields, beside the Dordogne where the cave-mouths of your troglodyte ancestors speckle honey-coloured cliffs.
North to the coastal plains from where your Saxon grandparents, many-times-great, set sail; to the home ports of dragonship mariners who fared up the rivers of eastern Aengland to plough and till and hunt and marry (and doubtless rape ‘n’ pillage too, though less than we used to imagine).
Down through Normandy where William the Bastard massed his seaborne army, spawners of a new ruling class that smudged, blurred, and finally absorbed itself into the ever-swirling mixture of you and me and us.
From the white cliffs of Étretat, pause and look out across grey water towards those other, lyricised chalky heights, over sunken Doggerland where your foremothers and fathers crossed in the Mesolithic, before Stonehenge was raised.
Now see, splurged across a purple storm-churned sky like Voldemort’s Dark Mark, bilious thunderheads spelling out NO FOREIGNERS HERE.
Patience Mackarness lives and writes partly in an elderly VW camper van, partly in a cottage in Brittany. Her work has been published or accepted by Brilliant Flash Fiction, Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Lunch Ticket, The Coachella Review, and elsewhere. She is unhealthily obsessed with Brexit.