Día de los Reyes Magos, 2009
My friend L. once gave me a box
of white chalk the approximate size
& shape of a pack of cigarettes.
What’s this, I asked. Well, if someone
comes up & asks you for a cigarette,
she said, you could give him
a piece of chalk. O.K., thanks, I said,
& stuck it absent-mindedly in
my backpack. Just now, rummaging
in the bottom of the pack for a book,
I found it again. It took me a second
to remember where it had come from.
A mouse had gotten in at some point
& nibbled a small hole in the top
of the box, but the twelve chalks were all
still unbroken. Development Through
Creativity, says the Crayola logo,
as if there were any other way.
Makes clean, smooth lines & erases
easily, it says on the back,
& suddenly I have a strong urge
to go out & draw something on
the sidewalk, something with clouds
& white orchids, polar bears, paper
birches, skeletons, dandelion seedheads,
albino deer with great branching antlers,
waterfalls, waterlilies, the Milky Way—
all with the smoke from elegant
faux cigarettes. But it’s dark out now,
& winter. Sleet ticks against
the window, & the walk is buried
under a fresh half-inch of white.