Household ArcheologyAnne 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.
Augur of Familial Scenes
Eros in Footnote
On January 1
The Sad Sentence
SON OF A FATHER
BEYOND THIS POINT ARE MONSTERS
Excerpt from The Fayum Portraits