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Volume 10, Number 11—November 2004
Another Dimension

The Woman at the Dig1

Leo Dangel

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Tired from running a combine

all day through acres of wheat,

alone in front of the TV, I pay

attention because the show’s about

scientists digging up an ancient site.

I have no special interest in bones,

pottery, spearheads, or prehistoric

garbage dumps, and I always look past

the man describing animal migrations,

burial rites, or building design and try

to catch a glimpse of the women

working at the site − one of them

might be wearing cut-off jeans

and a halter top, clearing a patch

of ground with a trowel or brush.

These women are all experts.

You can tell by the way they look

at a bone chip or a pottery shard

they understand worlds about

the person who left it. Sifting soil,

they show more grace than contestants

in a Miss Universe pageant.

Years from now, when these farms

are ancient history, an expedition

with such a woman might come along.

I could drop something for her to find,

a pocketknife, a brass overalls button.

If only she could discover my bones.

My eyes would be long gone,

But I can see her form coming into focus

above me as she gently sweeps aside

the last particles of dust − her knee, thigh,

hip, shoulders, and finally, set off by sky

and spikes of sunlight, her face − a woman

who recognizes what she’s found.

Leo Dangel (b. 1941)


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DOI: 10.3201/eid1011.ad1011

1From The Crow on the Golden Arches, Spoon River Poetry Press, 2004. Reprinted with permission.

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Table of Contents – Volume 10, Number 11—November 2004

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Page updated: April 17, 2012
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.