Household Archeology

Anne Babson

“Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them…” -- Genesis 31:34 (New International Version)

“It's always fun to repurpose things you keep around the house and use them in unique yet functional new ways…” – Marthastewart.com


With make-up brushes, I excavated

It from the basement below the basement.

I dug around it with an old nail file.


No, it can’t be.  It can’t be.  It can’t be.


How it revealed itself delicately—

An implied outline at first, land so far

Off on the horizon that it might just be


But it’s not.  I just won’t let it be.  No.


A distant storm, then a certain contour,

Then colored, still redolent with the wreathed

Lotus flowers with which I entombed it.


How can this thing have ever been my god?


My blood remembers the kneeling I blocked

Out of consciousness, the smearing of feet

With honey, the jar emptying the gold.


What did I think this would ever bring me?


My skin found the idol warm to the touch,

Not like now. I polished it with my best

Olive oil, burned green bills in a brass bowl.


I chanted.  I chanted. What did I chant?


What was it? Nam yo ho renge kyo? No.

Was it Ave? Mea culpa? Neither.

Call me, call me, call me, call me, call me?


The graven image remains deaf and mute,


Still radioactive to someone else,

Mum under the curse against which I

Now wear an amulet.  What will I do?


It is fossilized against wood chippers.


It has not composted yet.  If only

I were craftier.  With a glue gun and 

Imagination, I might make this an


Uncrackable piñata effigy.


With shoulder pads a stuffed bra, it might

Serve now as a grim dressmaker dummy.

A frat could make it an ancient Greek prank.


I think I had an orgy with this thing.


If I owned a disco, I could cover

It in fluorescent paint, and then the black

Light that emanates from it would make sense


To everyone else who looked at it.


For now, I will cover it with an old quilt.

I never come down here unless pipes whine.

Until I need ornaments for a tree,


I’ll lock the door at the top of the stairs.