The Dig (The Art of Uncovering A Story)

Cloudy-headed thoughts arrive
Wanting to tell me something
Wanting to show me something
I follow the thoughts and find myself standing in a plot of unearthed land
And somehow I know, deep within,
There are treasures hiding underneath the soil

I notice a shovel
Lying in the dew-covered morning dirt,
I grab the shovel and – for no logical reason – I dig
And dig
And dig
Hours pass
The sun peeks out from the clouds
Heating the air
And baking my skin
Steam rising off of me
And dripping in small pools down my brow
I dig and I dig
Forgetting myself
Forgetting the time
Forgetting all sensible actions
Until I hit something hard
A wooden object
Like a stick
Upon it
Engraved words
From another’s language
I have no idea what the text means
But it is beautiful to look at
Sweeping and lyrical phrases
Which envelop the eyes in a type of visual symphony
And it is old, this object,
Maybe hundreds of years old
I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life
And somehow, at the same time, it is eerily and most-lovingly familiar to me

I continue to carve the object out from the earth
Moving moistened brown dirt up and away
My arms tiring,
Aching and sore,
But my heart a-flutter
Thrilled by the discovery
And as I uncover it more fully
I realize that what I was seeing before, was just a single leg
Out of four
Belonging to a chair

After many hours of labor
The chair is freed from the earth

I hoist it up with all my strength
Set it upon the ground
And gaze at it with wonder

My brain is pulsing with questions
Why was I led here?
Why did I listen to this insane instinct of mine to dig?
How did I know to dig in this exact spot?
And what is this ancient relic?

Is it something I lost long ago that has found it’s way back?
Or is this our first meeting?

And who carved it originally?
Some mysterious and forever nameless face from centuries past
Did this long-gone stranger want it to be found or to remain hidden?
What would they think if they knew this object had ended up in my hands?
Or did the ghost of this stranger always intend for me to find it?

Was it fate that brought me to this strange and beautiful object?
Or simply blind luck?

A part of me even wonders…
Did it always exist there, under the soil?
Or did I somehow dream it into being?

And now that I have birthed it from the earth,
Does it belong to me?

I’m not sure I know
I’m not sure I’ll ever know
But somehow I was led here,
And for now at least,
The mystery of it belongs to me.

-Lucy Schwartz