by Jared Harel

My grandmother never trusted calculators.
She would crunch numbers in a spiral notebook
at the kitchen table, watching her news.
Work harder and I’d have more to count,
she’d snap at my father. And so my father worked
harder, fixed more mufflers, gave her receipts

but the numbers seldom changed.
There were silky things my mother wanted,
glorious dinners we could not afford.

Grandma would lecture her: no more garbage,
and so our house was clean. The attic spotless.
In fact, it wasn’t until after she died

that my parents found out how much she had saved us.
What hidden riches had been kept in those notebooks,
invested in bonds, solid blue digits
etched on each page. She left them
in the kitchen by her black and white television
we tossed a week later, though it seemed to work fine.

SOURCE: “Numbers” appears in Jared Harel‘s collection The Body Double (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012) available at

SOURCE: Cold Mountain Review, Volume 39, no. 1, Fall 2010.

IMAGE: “Spiral Notebook” by Pam Kennedy. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jared Harel’s poems have appeared in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Ecotone and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, The Body Double, was published by Brooklyn Arts Press (2012). He lives in Astoria with his wife and daughter, and plays drums for the NYC-based rock band, The Dust Engineers. Visit him at