29 Psaltery & Lyre: Alex Wiggins, “Cleaning our keyboard”


Cleaning our keyboard

Inscrutable flecks of amber
dot a salt-and-pepper spectrum of ash
and pale translucent flakes that
may be skin, molded like warmed wax
punched flat
in the shape of the spacebar
stamped by the plastic printing press.
The concoction is planted
as if painted on,
aged to permanence
under the number pad.

It’s weird how we erode.
In the valleys, shed pieces of me
fell from busy fingertips and mingled
with cracker crumbs, bacon bits,
stranded grains of rice—
manna for mice, self-replenishing
sumptuous caviar between the keys.
A meal of memories.

Lost down there
below the left Shift and Ctrl
is a small hidden nail.
I dropped it when we’d just moved in
and I was trying to hang your photo
in a frame above my desk
and I was new at this.
The nail no longer rattles
when I shake the keyboard
but I know it’s there because
the half-buried artifact
after thousands of words
still surprises me with the funny
comfortable way it makes
those two keys feel
when my pinky presses down.

I can’t clean it out.

I can only savor the thought
that something fixed and tangible remains
amid the mess to remind me
there are pieces of you, too:
a fingernail, an eyelash, longer strands
of hair, tangled tight with mine
woven around the arrows
Left, Right, Up, and Down,
in rings countless as the days
since his and hers merged and became more
than just
who knows.



Alex Wiggins graduated with a BA in English from Stephen F. Austin University and has since been working as a web and software designer for a big retail company.  He plans to pursue graduate studies in the coming months.  He’s also a self-recorded songwriter, father figure to a spoiled Siberian Husky, and husband to the world’s most lovely wife.


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