All the long time I've been writing and revising my novel I haven't cleaned my desk, or the long table (formerly my mother's dining room table). I cleaned the office a bit, because my office is also a guest bedroom, but on the desk and the table I only pushed the piles of stuff farther away from the edge so they wouldn't be a temptation to Z and C when they're visiting.
But now I'm more or less finished, for now at least (note all those qualifiers!), so I'm cleaning. Some discoveries are good--a book I'd been looking for midway down the Pile of Things I Should Do But Not Right Now; some bad--in the Pile of Things I Should Look at Some Time or Other, I found a bill I hadn't paid.
I also found
-- a recipe for melon soup
--3 NY Times Book Reviews (old, older, and ancient)
--some copies of a story with comments from my writers group
--an envelope with a list that adjured me to clean up my email and decide something about the undergrad meeting
--reminder from my dentist
--one of my sister's poems, with the great title of "Sugar Off, Daddy"
--an envelope with the address of someone I intended to write to 6 months ago: sorry, Theresa
And I found a poem I'd clipped from the NYer by W.S. Merwin, called "To the Book":
Go on then
in your own time
this is far as I will take you
A kind of farewell and elegy for a book which has been written, but not finished:
of course you are not finished
how can you be finished
Merwin asks. Which was a good thing to find just now, after all this long time, although I don't know the answer.