How to Hide Treasure (For Khalid al-Asaad, 1932-2015)

How to hide treasure.
Bury it in the ground.
Wrap it up well.
Gold will be all right, but silver tarnishes,
Try wax inside a linen wrap.
Stone will endure, but clay is different.
Use layers.
Mark provenance.
In a damp climate, beware of water seeping.
Seal everything.
Use chalk to protect ceramics.
Books are the hardest
Keep them dry, wrapped.
Use archival boxes, travel cases,
Whatever it takes to
Keep it all safe,
And dry.

How to hide treasure.
Choose somewhere likely to stay undisturbed,
Somewhere obscure,
Perhaps under foundations
Or out in the desert…
If there is a desert.
Take advantage of the situation
Our knowledge
Choose carefully.
Hope for the best
Hope we’ll come back,
Or someone will come soon who cares
Hope we’re not looking at
Archaeological time.
All we can do is hope
And try.

How to hide treasure.
Hide it in our hearts.
Hide it so deeply that we will not tell them
Not through torture.
So we will know and hope,
Keep hoping,
That what we’ve hidden will be found
By those like us who care.
It was before.
It will be there and safe
And all they can do is hurt us, kill us,
They cut off your precious head and long knowledge.
But the treasure stayed hidden:
History goes back, and on, and we know it,
connect and care.
They will never
See why.

How to hide treasure.
Share it with the world
Send out a million copies
Distribute what can not be reproduced
Barbarism doesn’t strike everywhere at once,
Islam saved the Greek texts
If we share it out, surely some will survive.
Elucidate and
Reproduce, photograph, reprint,
Hand on the stories that enhance the stones,
The stories of the heroes who knew
How to hide treasure,
So what is important lives on although
We die.

20th August 2015, Spokane