What She Keeps

Sometimes, she reaches for a handful
of paperclips, begin to sort them
into piles of rubber coated colored
ones, then subsets. The oversized bright
pink, the tiny red and blue. Often

there will be a yellow, but not today and
she starts to wonder where it is as she
passes quickly over the #1 loops of steel
wire, some smooth, some ridged beneath
her fingers. She pushes the jumbos aside

edging them back into another tiny bin
in the oak desk that was her father’s.
Regular for every day, but some she never
uses since she found them wedged
in the seams below the dovetailed joints,

loves the roundness of concentric circles
in the 1936 Kurly Klip.  He would’ve been
24 then and rebuilding his first service station
in the small town he landed in during the Depression.
She loves to smooth the eyes of the 1908 Owl

from before he was born, used to see them
clipped to his gasoline account books, what he
called his bookkeeping and worked on while he
cracked a whole bag of peanuts into the waste
basket between his knees after supper.

She won’t part with those, though she’ll use
the 1902 Ideals with their interlocking triangles,
two acute and one equilateral until the whole
thing looks like a monkey puzzle. She mounds
them now into the black Clipwell she found

in the top drawer, shoves his sliderules to
the back where she still keeps them for luck.
Ready now to face the day, she reaches for coffee
as the phone rings. Beads told, she almost
feels again his hand upon her back.