Janet (j4) wrote,

I'll dig with it

Outside the Archaeological Unit, when the weather's fine, there are people in shirt-sleeves sitting at a picnic table, laughing and talking and doing things that I can't see. It's hand-work, close-work, and they always seem to be enjoying it, whatever it is. There's a girl with a headscarf and a bright laughing grin, sometimes, and a man with long hair and a beard.

I like to think, with my minimal knowledge of archaeology, that they're sifting patiently through piles of dirt, looking for bits of bones or brooches; that they're sorting and measuring things, teaspoonful by teaspoonful. The path past the unit is bordered with celandines and primroses, grass and hedges and even fruit trees, but you can always see the earth beneath, the rocks, the branches, the bits of dead things. Between the living things bursting through and the dead things piling up the track is unsteady, potholed. There's never a parched root among these people, they're crisp as fresh apples.

I could ask them what they're doing. It wouldn't take much digging. There are things that have lain under the earth for all the lives we've ever lived; by the time they are brought blinking into the light, we won't have the language to understand them. I usually smile, as I cycle past.

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