Autopencil, to write moving finger without thought, to fill page after page like a signature machine freed of the loops and squiggles of a program, like the mind in long stretches of waiting for something, waiting is all, waiting is the empty place from which understanding blooms like a seed sudden from the desert after a breath of rain.
My father’s clipboard, his pencils, shop pencils thick in the barrel, industrial.
I have one, black plastic or Bakelite, steel at each end where the lead came out and where the eraser sat, now an empty tube. The legend:
Champion Tool & Die Co.
McKeesport, Pa. 15131
I wonder if they’re still in business, or rusted with the rest of the belt, foundries and steel suppliers, solvent and paint dealers, tool and die works, trucking companies, designers, fabricators, merchants. A whole world whittled away, year by year, until now the red brick buildings stand like historic sites, Hadrian’s Wall or the Great Wall or some other useless thing, a single bare bulb burning over a back door.
Is not to be preferred over the traditional sort. Thin lead in yellow plastic. Ersatz. No smell of cedar, no scalloped shavings, no angled shading across a ruled page as faces and horses emerge from doodles, no pencil-point under the skin from grade-school bullies.
The Riveter Talks With Sarah Manguso
10 hours ago