December 12, 2012


The last of the collections is leather scraps. It smells the best. If you burrow into the bins, you don’t want to touch bottom—damp, mulch-like, maggoty. Stay close to the surface and you’ll be fine. Soak up the scent of soap, bay leaves, and fresh-cut softwood.

Someone rolled gray enamel over the windows. Who would paint a window? Nothing inside this warehouse has borne daylight in a decade or more. This isn’t completely correct; a million billion holes permeate the roof and walls. Matrices of light stand out against the dust that is suspended perpetually. That’s a lot of exposition, so let’s move on.

Look, if you were here, there would be no need to describe everything. You talked and talked about places like this; collected cutout pictures and saved them with thumbtacks and magnets, even though digital storage is so much more efficient. Did your method make it easier to expose the images and make them available for the inspection of passersby?

When I was about ten and still the new kid in the neighborhood, a couple of burly boys befriended me and we’d walk partway home together after school. We’d joke and complain in the ways children do, but Tom and Bill would also take turns punching my arms and back. I complained to my mother. She listened and then asked me if there was something in my pocket I could show them. I think she meant a small toy or other treasure. I shuffled away, more miserable than ever.

Those aren’t ponies you’re hearing. It’s the sound of high heel shoes on a tile floor. That’s not the sourness of wet hay and spoiled stall bedding. Keep your observations to yourself, for once.


It fascinates me endlessly: this place here


  1. Daryl Scroggins on December 13th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    This is wonderful, Michael. Cindy loves it too. It makes me think of a paradox: that we can encounter a world that language only seems to damage–while language remains the only path that allows us to hold it. We must try to sneak up on the thing itself. And this makes the “something in your pocket” you could “show them” lesson amazing in its precision, even as the listener shuffles away, unhelped.

  2. Sheila Ryan on December 13th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Michael Grant Smith, you’re really good, y’know?

  3. rick neece on December 13th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Really, really good.

  4. Michael Grant Smith on December 13th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    You are all of you too kind and very generous. But thank you!