Pencil Box by Kelli Grinich

My son said his first day of kindergarten was “the best day ever,” mostly because “they didn’t make me take a nap!” He is easing into the pleasure of carrying around a zippered pencil pouch. Perhaps soon he will appreciate them as Kelli Grinich does in today’s poem.


Photo courtesy Brian Landis

Pencil Box

by Kelli Grinich

Scholastic Ticonderoga No. 2’s
and rainbow of soft-cored colored pencils.
Smell of wood and graphite and mineral wax
points worn to the round of old mountains
moth-wing shavings trimmed in yellow paint.

One hexagonal pencil fattened with duct tape
for better grip
during the broken finger weeks.
Another two-inch stub with
eraser rubbed flat to brass circle rim.

What stories came before these remnants,
their courage bolstered by
pencil-eraser forgiveness?
Make gone and begin again.

Amid the colors
Copenhagen, Peacock, True Blue
pigments ran off to skies and oceans and lakes.
Carmine and Crimson bound together with
rubber bands, two-tone ghosts of Valentine’s Day hearts
or apples on branches
growing from Sienna Brown trunks.

Goldenrod sharpened to half-length
took life in blonde curls
self-portrait of the eight-year-old
still taped
to the laundry room wall.


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