Iron Industry Museum Field Trip

07/09/08

Iron Industry Museum Field Trip

I’m here to absorb
not record.

I’m here to see
not observe.

I’m here to feel
not memorize.

I glance again at the scavenger hunt the professor gave me and crumple it up into my briefcase. We have a very short time here and I’ll be damned if I’ll use it trying to take notes on minutiae. Who gives a shit about facts and timelines? I’m more interested in the photos on the walls and the life sized cut outs made from the photos that stand all around me. Look at the faces of those men and women. Different backgrounds and customs, but all their faces show a pioneer determination. Those faces…that’s where the stories are. The determination runs through them like it’s in their blood…red like the ore dust that collects in the very stitchholes of their clothes and the pores of their skin.

I see a display of actual iron ore. I rub one of the ore chunks with my fingers lightly and marvel at how that little bit of contact results in such a mess. The dust is so impossibly fine and trying to rub it away only spreads it more and more.

I stick my whole hand in and rub it back and forth to cover my whole palm and all my fingers in the silky red dust. It feels cool to the touch even here inside the climate controlled museum. My handkerchief doesn’t wipe it away. The action only succeeds in pressing the particles deep into the lines and callouses of my hands. The cloth of the handkerchief actually polished the dust to a metallic shine. My hand looks like it’s made of red metal.

If I had a larger pile of ore and a shovel I would scoop and scoop until a huge red dust cloud rose around me like blood fog. I’d feel it in my eyes, breathe it into my nose, and taste it in my mouth. I would feel it clinging to my sweating limbs as my muscles ached and labored.

Then I would learn something.