A handing down. To us
from Latin trans-, over (or across or beyond), and dare, to give.
Also, to surrender
through traditus, traditio and traditionem. Down, say the Via Appia, or
the Appian Way, over the Alps and later by way of
French townships. Whose townspeople would say:
tradicion. Which becomes a word of interest out of its antiquity,
its lengthy history as a
doppelganger for treason, a handing over.
Which is handed down and
over the same Latin way—road, route, or Latin roots—except
via an unexpected twist taken by the French: traison.
The French being so persnickety and peculiar that way. Being
Gauls and ghoulish and having the gall, being also somewhat foolish,
to distinguish between up and down, or over and under, or over and
down in this way, as if down the road there isn’t also over the hill. Isn’t also
our own doubts? And how many we aren’t yet over. As if
it is always one or the other and not first
handed over before it is handed down to us
to doubt. Remember
Rahab. Who for her part is always called the harlot.
Letting down those spies from her
Jericho high rise. Down a length of rope,
never mind the length (the length being irrelevant):
and each one hand over hand.
Too, letting down her townsfolk. Handing them over
to the Israelites. Even those
who had admired and kissed her thighs. Or
Judas, called Iscariot, whose betrayal was a kiss.
Whose betrayal was long foretold. Some say decreed,
a handing down through time.
But woe to that man who betrays: for he is often found at the end
of his rope. And betray being betrair—be-, thoroughly, completely,
or surrounded on all sides and given over and over and from hand to hand
across all time. Which is
just down the road, being itself the end of the road.
And so many of us on this road without
so much as a rope: trair, traitor, tradere. And trado, traditio, and so
not so far beyond
“to surrender to.” A handing over of self
to another self, whom himself is handed down and
First published July 21, 2016 The Curator.