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THE AMBIGUITY OF THEFT

Two of the rooms in the British Museum

I always visit are numbers 7

and 8, ‘Assyria: Nimrud’. Named,

in modern times, for the Biblical Nimrod

the three thousand year old city of Kalhu

is twenty miles south of Mosul. On display

from the palace of Ashurnasirpal

are gypsum panels, carved reliefs, products –

faultlessly sculpted – from a master’s workshop.

They are, for the most part, pristine, and portray

absolute kingship, its circumstance, pomp,

and prisoners’ heads severed after battle.

So-called Islamic State – that outfit

of aliases, fanatics duped

by gangsters – does not distinguish between

flesh and stone, has destroyed on video

what little remains of Assyria

that is not preserved in Bloomsbury,

in that mausoleum of necromancy,

in that temple to kleptomania,

in that exquisite cache.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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