Utility Drawer | Elizabeth Kerlikowske


Utility Drawer | Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Said the pen to the paintbrush and crochet hook, “It’s like we’re sister-wives. That hand just keeps us here in the drawer, waiting for its next whim.”

The paintbrush said, “I think of it as a time of germination.”

The crochet hook said, “I get motion sickness sometimes anyway.”

The pen said, “You both think too much. We are tools; that’s all.”

“No!” the paintbrush objected. “I am an artist.”

“Moi aussi!” said the crochet hook.

“No. You are a craftsperson,” said the pen to the hook. “Everyone knows that.”

The crochet hook looked down her nose at the pen.

“Oh, you mean useful?”

The pen turned over and nodded off with the Number 2s.

“He is so cynical,” said the crochet hook.

“Don’t be hard on him. He has no memories,” the paintbrush explained. “My bristles lived on a pig. I’ve felt the sun on me. Do you remember before you were a crochet hook?”

“I was thinking the other day: I loved being ore, so snug. And smelting, though hot, felt good. I never dreamed I’d have such a sleek shape; I’m pretty happy.”

“It’s not like that for the pen. He was born plastic; that’s all he is. Ink flows through him, the hand guides him, all he knows is what he’s been forced to write.”

The crochet hook almost felt bad for the pen, but then he woke up and starting kicking the drawer to get the hand’s attention. The drawer opened, the hand reached in, grabbed the pen and hurled it into the wastebasket, where it continued fussing.

The drawer shut. After a while, the paintbrush said, “It’s kind of nice with him gone.”

“It is,” said the hook. She hesitated, “I am an artist, too, aren’t I?”

“Of course you are,” said the paintbrush, because she knew how to make something what it wasn’t.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske is an arts activist and community organizer, president of Friends of Poetry. She is the author of six books/chapbooks and also makes visual arts from the remnants of lives.