Golden Virginia

by Caroline Millar

As I pull off the lid
the slow scrape of tin,
the click as it bumps over the raised grooves,

and then,
the musty sweetness,
sweet blend of stale tobacco and shiny nails.

The smell of sawdust fills my nostrils,
red shavings fall like scoops of ice-cream onto the workroom floor,
while in the next room
my grandma peels shiny red apples.

Bamboo-stick fishing nets, un-spoked umbrellas, paintbrushes in jars of turpentine, and a
lifetime’s hoard of buttons.
Saturday afternoon’s curtains drawn against the summer sun,
the smell of fried onions and burst sausages.

I bend lower,
push my nose close to the cold tin, eyes tightly closed.

But it is gone.

The horsehair brushes are stuck in wallpaper paste, like fish
trapped under a frozen pond.
The buttons don’t match.

My hand, now like a giant’s on the small tin, gently presses the lid back down.