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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'Dad Drawer' by Jack Granath

I always thought the smell of the top drawer of my father’s dresser came from his

tobacco. He kept a pipe nearby, along with a dish full of coins and a watch on a chain

under a bell jar. When I opened that drawer (not thieving, just intrigued by the prospect

of a matchbook from a foreign country or some treasure like that) I was struck by a smell

that I didn’t know from any other part of the house, certainly not from the drawers in my

own room.

I just now realized it is not tobacco but old paper—notes on scraps, sketches, foreign

currency, photographs in brown paper sleeves, those matchbooks, life’s many mementos

impossible to throw out or display. It is not the smell of a junk drawer in the kitchen. It

is not the smell of anything in the room of a child who has lived for only ten years or so.

It is the smell of paper, some of it decades old. I know this now, after opening the top

drawer of my own dresser, being briefly astonished, and leaning in.

All Rights. Jack Granath.

Jack Granath's poetry has appeared in Poetry East, Rattle, and North American Review among other journals and magazines. He is a library director in Kansas.

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