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The Junk Drawer
by C.E. Chaffin

It was the last repository of things
uncatalogued, unnamed,
in a world of firm organization.
It held rubber bands (thin pink ones
from throwaway papers) wrapped
around a Band-Aid box containing
rusted paper clips and tarnished brads.
There were loose scissors, dull and nicked,
cheap tools culled from my father's cache,
adhesive tape, nails, coupons, tacks,
cardboard, pencils, felt pens, maps,
bent compasses and a few stamps
of awkward denomination.

Still, the drawer had a method.
Each category found a row
in the old, cracked silverware tray
but the rows weren't always pure—
not even Plato could not have distinguished
the essence behind each division,
for there were too many compromises—
tacks lay with emery boards, tape with string.
I'm sure this pained my mother.

I can still see her pinching a lost bracket
in her strong, knobby fingers
and interrogating every family member
as to the origin and purpose
of such an inexplicable object.
"It must have a purpose," she insisted.
After our ignorance was confirmed
her suspicion of the thing's importance
increased enough to qualify it for the drawer.
She knew one day she would be vindicated
when the thingamabob was missed
and she, heavenly packrat, would descend
like Prometheus bearing fire.

(previously published in the long since defunct Tintern Abbey)


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