This week’s Monday Book is the 1847 Proceedings of the Virginia House of Delegates. I spent the weekend decoupaging a bookshelf with it.
Creativity is the product of sublimated aggression. And Saturday I just needed to do something different with my life. So I papered a bookcase–literally.
Some of the pages were bills and their readings. Some were budget reports. The state was $4 million in debt in 1847. Some were assessments of income on how they were making up that revenue. Taxes and such. Income from criminal properties seized by the state. Which included people.
The second shelf holds the two-page report of female prisoners, ages 14-66, by number of women in each age bracket, and the occupations they had been put to work in at the prison. Several spinners, some dyers, a couple of weavers, etc. I put it face side up, where books would sit on top of it but I could look over and just see the entry on the edge of the shelf: 14-20, 6, spinners, income–and then it’s lost under the next page.
Ezekiel 34: 1-4 discusses shepherds who tend the sheep entrusted to their care, versus those who strip them of their wool, their dignity, their lives:
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
A friend said I should have burned the book. Nope. It’s a coded message that will sit in the shelf for all time: this is why we vote. Justice for all, or justice for none; make space for the voiceless, or expect to lose your voice. No matter who wins–or when the winner is declared, by whom–I will know that message on the shelf.