mad in pursuit memoir notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE intersection of yesterday and forever

Sound of writing

When we still lived on Penrose, sometime before I was 11, I got the assignment of walking my father's shirts to the cleaner's. I think it was on Lee, a few blocks away. I made the walk every week or so.

The white shirts had a vague scent: like home, like the pillows on my parents' bed. Sweet daddy.

The laundry had a glass-window storefront with a counter. It smelled like hot irons on cotton shirts.

The clerk took the shirts and counted them. She had one of those machines with sets of forms and carbon paper for making out the laundry ticket. She positioned the form and wrote something like "Price - Penrose - 6 Shirts" and ticked "Light Starch."

That sound! Under the forms was a thin metal plate. The metal plate covered the storage hollow below. You could hear the pencil writing. It was loud and authoritative. Six Shirts! It awoke a covetousness in me. I wanted a job where I could write on one of those machines and make my pencil speak.

Then I walked home.