Oh No. 2 pencil, I have fallen in love with you in my middle age—you my truest friend of childhood left abandoned for the seductive ballpoint pen, then the typewriter, then the keyboard. The permanent dent in my right middle finger never forgot you, I swear, and sometimes craved the pain of you—I pushed so hard against you back in the days.
Oh hard black HB, you so full of graphite and clay, you who come to me most often hexagonal, but sometimes round (like the marbled ones I picked up in Florence, now nearly nubs I long to replace)—it is your dark gray against my white sheet, your smooth whisper tickling my ear, your point gradually dulling that makes me sharpen you again and again.
Still, I write with keys, having been (at a tender age) lured by the quick of it, seduced by sound and volume and practicality, drawn deeply into the first thing I could do well with my hands. You, No. 2 pencil, I save for private works: the grocery list (bananas, soy milk, spinach), to-do list (work out, get mail, feed birds), my own private page proofs (no red for others’ eyes). You are short phrases and sighs, the lover in the dark stairwell. You are eagerness and immediacy, the scritch-scratch of now, now, now.