The Keepsake


You kept a rusty Bugs Bunny tin of marbles in our bedroom
on the shelf you thought I couldn’t reach
because you dreamt they might be worth something


I found one under your bed this morning when I was clearing out Mom’s house
and your side of the room exactly as you had left it.

An abandoned, cerulean-blue
glassy cat’s eye stared at me

from the dark corner of the rectangular outline —
darker than the rest of the Brazilian cherry wood floor —
that the sun had never touched.

I reached for it.

Cool — almost chilled — it was,
by the absence of life-giving rays.
Smooth, in its betraying lack of indentations.
It was weightier than I had expected.

My fingertips caressed it, gently at first;
then with increasing pressure, earnestly hoping to infuse it with life.
I wanted it to see me
and be happy to be found.

But it didn’t know that it had been lost
and could not find joy in the moment.

Like you,
with the cerulean, glassy stare you gave me
when I found you in your bed when you were sixteen.
You didn’t know that one to match lay on the wooden floor beneath you.

I recalled the time that I spilled your collection
and how the clatter roused you from a lazy Sunday nap.
I froze in place and shivered, anticipating your ire.

You considered me with cerulean compassion,
a golden lock matted against your forehead.
And you laughed silver strands of grace at me.

I didn’t know the last time I laughed with you
would be the last time I laughed with you,
until it was.

I nestled the marble in my palm
and put it in my pocket.

It was worth something.

*Originally appeared in The Purpled Nail