Saturday, March 30, 2013

Archeology of Trash

 Archeology connects the dots to tell a story of past cultures and unearthed histories. Does litter have a history? Does it uncover a mystery behind a culture? For the past year, residents in and out of DC's Shepherd Parkway have gathered off Malcom X Boulevard to rid National Park land from years of neglect due to dumping. Last Saturday, under blue skies and brisk temperatures I joined the clean-up party for the second time along with more than a hundred of my brothers and sisters, young and old. 
     We sifted our fingers through dirt to free the forest from drowning in layers of litter, exhuming decades of dumping. As my feet gripped the steep ravine, my hands pulled, brushed, scooped, sifted and grabbed uncommon and common litter such as, straws, chips bags, soda cans and bottles, styrofoam food containers and lots of plastic bags. Some bags were still in tack holding contents but most were shreds of plastic ensnared in tree root hairs strangling them from the rich nutrients of the loamy soil. As I collected uncommon litter, such as silverware, I wondered about the stories of the people who owned these items.

Plastic toy phone rings

"Hello" pigtails scream happily

Phone eyes jiggle joy

Spoons clinking brewed beans

Communion hats on Sunday

Etched mugs gleaming praise

High heel calluses

Severed bra yields violence

Dull, rusty steel blade

Street-side Ford jacked up

Four discus throws down ravine

Towering old tires