Archival work

She worked in the archives of a small college university for a year. At first, she used a little vacuum to clean the dust from the delicate pages of ancient, crumbling books for eight hours a day. She loved teh work, carefully, slowly hovering over a wealth of knowledge, having the power to destroy it all. For hours on end, she would stand in the little ladder and wave the wand over those closed pages, holding information and history so beautiful that they books could never be opened again. When she finished the very last shelf it was time to vacuum the first one again.

This lasted for weeks and becams a meditation. And then a geology professor died. Box upon box of letters, notes, and maps were delivered. Specimens of limestone, quartz, igneous formations from the American north.

She put it all in order, reading his carbon copies of letters sent out, reading the calls and answers of old students, women he had slept with, fellow esteemed rock hounds. She finished the last box and was ready to vacuum again, to go back to where there were no words.

But then came the poet’s death. Even more boxes, more letters. She sorted and sorted, until his life became hers. She read and was nourished, findign victory in cronographically sorting the drafts of famous poems, book proofs. Suddenly, all of this became her voice, and she quit longing for the drone of the vacuum, the repetition of the wand.


Filed under Frustrations and Rants, work

3 responses to “Archival work

  1. Did you work at the Denison archives, too?? How did I not know that? I worked there the summer of ’02.

  2. I worked there after you. I actually got to work with Paul Bennetts papers and what not. It was fascinagting. I want to say junior and Sr. years was my time line with the archives.

  3. Jessica

    that makes sense. i figured you were talking about the Bennett papers. they were filtering in just as my summer was ending and i didn’t get to look at them much. i mostly researched the campus buildings. it was fun because i like stuff like that but not as cool as personal stuff.

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