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The Gray Drawer | Mary Jo Robinson-Jamison

“You will find every day, that the gable of every house has its own particular look, its own special lighting.”  Herman Hesse’s 1905 essay “On Little Joys” in My Belief: Essays on Life and Art




“ ...,the principal thing is the beginning, the opening of the eyes.”


When small things do not matter to me, it is a forgettable day I can put in my gray drawer.  A drawer too full.  A drawer which slides into a turn of the century dresser with a beveled front. Under the drawer is ancient dirt and injuries to the wood.  My gray drawer stuffed with winter gloves, a candle stub, flattened sunhats, a single gray sock, one metal nut, the business card of a house painter, a key ring, a torn scarf. This is where I keep those days that went by without comment. Day which melted into the River Styx along with ancient gods whose names were forgotten in high school.


The wonderful thing about the drawer is its infinite bottom.  It is like a trash compactor.  Like an urn.  “Thou art dust.”  Remember that phrase? Yes, I will return to being dust, but part of me has always been something else.  The part that won’t ever be in the gray drawer. The part that sees how wisps of smoke swirl across the slanted roof next door in a particular way that was different from the way it moved the day before.  It sees a thought cross a face; sees the air thicken when smoke from wildfires crosses the border; sees the chipmunk hiding in a drainpipe. Those days. They were never meant to be contained.  The part of me worth keeping will never be in a gray drawer.


Mary Jo Robinson-Jamison lives in St. Paul, Minnesota where she and her husband, Kent, raised their two children. She worked with the severely multiply handicapped as a music therapist for forty years. Her poems have been published in Eastern Iowa Review, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Driftwood Press, Talking Writing, Talking Stick, Minnesota Voices, and others.


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