My father wore one behind his ear.
Always a short stub as if it started out
half used up. Peggy liked hers long and sharp.
She wrote in one of those notebooks
with the black and white cover
we used eighty years ago.
The pencil had to be a number two.
Maybe they were twice as good as number ones.
I was the guy who sharpened them.
The shavings brought me an inhalation of the forest
and she took it from there. Painted birds
flew off the page from reptilian roots.
She found rhizomes which led to a glade
with spears of sun as yellow as her pencil.
She made her woods an orchard or an estuary,
a rainforest or a grove. Bee-loud or hushed.
Solitary in a minion of one.
Thoreau was a pencil man with a head for graphite.
It’s safe to say he wrote his notebook by his own invention.
Peggy and I went to Walden Pond and his cabin.
Were there pencils? No, but his ghost still haunts
the red oak and buckthorn.
Consider what pencils go through
with misspellings, words morphing to their opposite
and erasures, ouch, with never a complaint or fatigue.
They let us know their lifespan
as the pink rub-out turns pale
and their hexagon gets rounded.
It is said one pencil contains 45,000 words.
(I'll take their word for it.)
and that doesn't include all the
exclamation points on those inexhaustible Thursdays.