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I found a boxful in our kitchen

on the shelf

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reserved for spices and sweetmeats.

Rattling like tambourines,

they had been mistaken for hard candies

and pushed

way to the back

along with wizened nutmegs

and a bottle of vanilla extract.

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Lifting the lid,

I stirred the disks with a finger.

One on the bottom

caught my nail,

a curio from the Early Iron Age,

like something found in a Danish peat bog,

now ruined by the slow burning of rust.

Were those holes for threading?

Pewter heirlooms,

tortoise-shell keepsakes,


from my daughter's

first pair of patent-leather shoes,

enameled ivory,

treasures from the five-and-dime,

which never fastened anything,

amber ellipsoids,

cast brass with rhinestones,

wafers of gilded Bohemian glass,

and one pin-back touting Alf Landon

for president.

The last to be looked at,

a medallion,

cerulean blue,

of clay and shellac,

was etched with an apple,

a reminder

that there were no buttons in Eden,

not even bellybuttons.

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