How Do I Recycle These Batteries?

by John Pinkham

I like to root around my family’s junk drawer for treasure
There are paper clips that jump like frogs
And dried rubber bands
That look like my worm farm
After I left them in the sun too long
That day I learned worms are not plants
But they don’t talk to me
Just like plants don’t talk to me
So you can see how I was confused
I once found a Carl Yastrzemski rookie card
Underneath a pile of old batteries
That my mom says we have to recycle a special way
I like to use them in my experiments
For instance,
Do you know what happens
When you put a child size fist full of batteries in a cup of water?
Not much of anything
But I know that now
The old man at the hobby shop said he’d give me 20$
For my Carl Yastrzemski card
I said no
Because I like the way it makes me feel good
It makes me feel good
Just like playing with my paper clip frogs makes me feel good
But I don’t think anybody
Is going to give me money for my paper clip frogs
Unless I paint them green
But I’m out of green
Because I was painting trees all day yesterday
Its funny,
There will be a last time I paint
And these bottles will rattle around
In the junk drawer
Half full, fully full or almost empty
For years
Enough blue for an entire ocean
Enough yellow for the sun of a brand new world
Enough brown for a million houses for the people like us who live there
Enough orange for my brother to cover
The house in palm prints
Because he will be too drunk to say “help me”
And enough red to burn my new world to ash

I like to root around my family’s junk drawer
And find treasure
I like to line all my treasures up on the window sill in my brothers room
When the midafternoon sun can wipe the tarnish off my wheat pennies
Fill a dirty tea cup with warm light just for me
And scream through all my marbles except for one

In the back of my family’s junk drawer
There lived this one marble
Opaque and yellow
That looked like a gum ball
And never let the light in
It was the world’s most perfect marble
And always had a special place on the window sill

Its funny,
There was a last time I did this
And those treasures turned trash
In an instant
Except for this one yellow marble
That rolled around my room for years
The sun of the new world I never created
Even when I most needed a home
And every so often
More often than I’d like to admit
I would find it on the ground
And try to take a bite right out of it
Because it still looked so much like a gumball to me
On the third trip to the dentist
My mom is confused by two things
1) That I tried to eat a trash gumball off the ground
In the first place
2) that it has happened more than once
I told her that I forgot
But I’m not sure that’s exactly right
What I meant to say is that
I tried to eat the sun
I tried to eat the sun
Because you don’t need the light
If there’s nothing worth seeing anymore
Because we can’t recognize the past
Even if it’s the only place we remember feeling good
Because there is no new world made of old colours
There is only what we can reach out and touch with our hands
A few bent paper clips
An old rubber band
And a cracked tooth covered in the mouth blood of an artless child

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