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,
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.
Photo from nocturny.deviantart.com