NaPoWriMo Day 30: Library of the Obscure

by Rachel Creager Ireland

Domestication crept in gradually.
It may have started with books.
Remember when books held magical
stories you couldn’t find anywhere else?
When facts were precious, and libraries
were oases of information? In the house
where I grew up, books in every room.
And then I began to collect them.

In things, too, there is rich history
that no one notices, or cares to.
The antique field organ that could literally
be rolled into a field, worth nothing today.
My scientist father’s collection of slide rules.
The voting machine that elected W.
A map of the world that shows Rhodesia,
Czechoslovakia, two Pakistans, one Germany.
A Rolodex, a Commodore 64 computer,
CDs, records, cassette tapes, 8-tracks.
Film projectors and reels and reels of films.
If I had a house with endless rooms,
it could be a library of the obscure,
a museum of archaic technology,
a gallery of unknown artists.
A place one could wander, looking
at objects with history, stories,
memorials to people who are silent now.
We could fix the broken banjolele
and the flute from the 1930s and
play for the children dancing
in costumes hand dyed in the 1970s.

When the oceans drown the coasts
and the governments wither away,
we will be here on the prairie,
reciting the Latin names of medicinal
wild botanicals, hosting readings from
the collected works of Shakespeare,
preserving food in the way
of George Washington Carver,
keeping our deep humanity alive
with the old stories.

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