Pinch Pots
by Mrs. Jones (Creative Writing & English 10 Teacher)

When each were in fourth grade, my boys
held clay in their palm and made a divot
with their thumb; worked the clay for days
to make a mother's day gift: a pinch pot
the size of a plum. One is a shallow shell of a dish
with tiger orange and white stripes
and a slender coil of black for a rim;
two years later, his brother made a pinch pot too.
His was taller but had a smaller cup, painted
with coal and silver trim; its inside glowed
with a bright, fuschia-scarlet glowing bowl.
Both pots nest their own neat pile of paperclips.

I reach for each of them daily--use the clips to separate
various lecture notes, scrawled discussion commentary,
printed pages of online grades, typed calendars
in tables by class, or week; or wayward, random mail.
No matter what the paper, I can pick up a stack of pages,
sort and pile by task, or type--and in just a single motion,
in one satisfying shlick of pages as they straighten,
they're even, lined in an even row. Hard to see, even,
how many pages they'd been.

As though I am an expert knitter gliding yarn over thumbs,
her knitting needles and inward facing pointer, ring, and pinky fingers
all plaited with yarn--hands barely knowing what they'd done--
I too gracefully move without thinking; my thumb and fingers
ease the shorter loop of the paperclip in place where it belongs,
and it slides over the set like a bookmark in a novel impossibly long.

And just for that second, I can see where I am.
I know what to do next. From here, it appears
there is order in my life, and even
that there are still small children at home.

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