Two tall stacks of books currently menace my desk. I noticed they were getting problematic only after it was too late. One stack is comprised of books I used to write a review that is still in the hands of an editor from whom I have not heard in a few months. I know that as soon as I return the books to the library, the editor will get back to me and ask me to flesh out some aspect of the subject’s body of work, and I will be back to the library to reclaim my cache. The second stack is made up of copies of our will, empty mailers and books for a piece I may or may not write anytime soon. Interspersed with this stack are books I am using to create a hypothetical document for a job for which I am a long shot.
The surface of the desk is covered with a glacier-mass of papers: submission lists, medical records, tax forms, paid bills, filled journals, oil change coupons, job descriptions, resume drafts, successful and failed sections of poems. Dead pens, binder clips and audio cords snarl from the perimeter like concertina wire. A grille of vertical books stands on two sides, giving the impression that the glacier-mass exists at the foot of high fjords, a thought that pleases me. From the top of the fjords, plastic figures gaze down at the glacier’s slow progress.
Often, when I first enter the office in the morning, I find that some of the papers have fallen onto the chair or floor. As with most glaciers, the action happens unremarked, and the papers calve off in the dark of night, adding their incalculable volume to the rising abyss. You would think I might take these opportunities to file the fallen papers or throw them out, but I simply add them back to the glacier. The reason I can’t deal with them is the same reason the stacks keep getting taller: I cannot help feeling that at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will need these papers and the information contained therein for some project, some chore, some argument hinging on a buried passage that must be within my reach or lost forever. This collection might as well be my consciousness made corporeal. So, when the parent in me surveys the view from here and barks, Clean up that mess!, the child in me responds impetuously, But I am that mess!