Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Box

Sunday morning writing with my friend. The prompt? A box. What's in it? My first thoughts follow.

Four sides and a sealed underseam
a lid that lifts free,

it is neither menace nor promise
more a probability

from afar and, without inspection,
an indecipherability.

To lift the lid is to
rearrange the atmosphere.

Expectation becomes awareness.
Had I filled the box

it would contain things that I love best:
children and grandchildren,

a white cottage with blue shutters,
my mother’s green teapot,

paper and pencils and paints,
countless books, a memory quilt,

embroidered with the names of those I love
 and under which I’d snuggle with a cup of tea.

There, in a corner, wrapped in bubbles,
would be dreams and whispered wishes,

that haven’t yet come true,
hugs, laughter, remembered smiles,

all in a tangle of joy.
And there? Under the brown paper

at the bottom would be
all my footsteps, all the places I’ve walked; 

There would be hordes of Ent-like trees
with huggable trunks and tell-secrets leaves;

bright, open fields filled with wildflowers
or corn, or hay in the making.

There would be only one city street
garish and thronging, making me wish for

dirt roads that meander, that wash out in 
heavy rains or become mud-bogged in spring,

hazy hot summer roads abuzz with 
insects, lined with chicory as blue as the sky.

I'd wander at will like a ghost 
through all the houses that held me,

stopping to listen to the mantel clock
at the old homestead, or to read stories 

to my own youngsters in our little Cape in 
Connecticut; to butter one of Tilda's

freshly baked hard rolls in the tiny
kitchen of the Long Island summer cottage,

or to watch a purple thunderhead build and explode
over my log cabin perched on a hill in Vermont.

I might haunt old jobs - tread again the swaying wooden floors 
of the old needlework factory in Tarriffville;

sniff the stale-coffee smell of the teacher's
lounge in Danville, pound up the clackety wooden

stairs of the newspaper office where I wrote
features and columns for fifteen years;

weave between the hush-carpeted cubicles 
where I stared at a computer screen all day,

or pace the long, tiled hallways of the grammar 
school where I once took high school classes.

The sheep meadows in England, the canal
boat in Holland, the rows of crosses in France,

every step I took abroad would be there in the box
waiting to be remembered.

I would not, however, leave hope in the box
as Pandora did. I’d tip it over

and shake until hope fell out, too
and with it in one hand

and my box in the other
I’d go on.


Brian Miller said...

i rather like the thought of a tangle of joy making its way in my box...totally get the anticipation of whats in the box...if i was a cat, i would be dead by shake hope out...smiles.

Friko said...

Wonderful, that’s one to follow.
But how to follow, what is there to say after having taken in your words?

Perhaps I would have to shut the box rather than open it.

Kerry said...

This is the most magical box ever. So beautiful Pauline!

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing piece

Peter Bryenton said...

Smashing stuff.


Teachers' lounge.

x B.

Barbara Shallue said...

I loved this, Pauline, and especially the image of you at the end, hope in one hand, going on.

Michael Manning said...

Very nice and filled with wonder! I thoroughly enjoyed this post!!

Diane said...

Beautiful. As always. I'm getting an urge to explore my poetic side...

Pauline said...

Brian - It was an interesting exercise. I like the tangle of joy, too.

Friko - I hope you do the exercise. I'd love to read your take!

Thanks, Kerry. It's fun when the words flow. The poem needs work; this is just a first draft, but fun nonetheless.

And thank you, OOTP. I imagine your box would be filled with prairie flowers!

B - I like those parts, too :)

Barbara - the ending will stay though that box might get too heavy at some point...

Thanks for stopping by, Michael!

Diane - would love to read your poetry. Your prose is always so well written.

A Cuban In London said...

I love the way you peel off layer after layer of your box. I don't know how to read the ending, though. I feel it more than trying to make sense of it. It's more like "whatever life throws at me, I'll take it and make it mine" type of attitude. Which suits me fine. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Pauline said...

ACIL - My own take on the ending is much like yours - life is such an adventure!