There was the shower stall at work where I slumped
one afternoon, towel-wrapped and flushed from running,
suddenly overcome with not having a someone
orange tiled walls, ad magazines, other people’s shampoo–

and the office downstairs I returned to, still sweating,
the screen where I sat staring for hours getting little done,
reminding me of a prediction I made fifteen summers ago–
life is more than a 10×10 cubicle. There was the dream

of undiscovered rooms, the Chinese boxes I kept trying to
get to the bottom of, the boxing lessons when I was twenty-two
after the winter in Mexico of my own wasted youth,
the bins in the basement of outgrown shoes, their boxes

long discarded, or transformed into abandoned fairy houses.
There were the velvet boxes holding round golden promises,
the dented cardboard boxes containing journals, crushed
repositories of my existence, the safety deposit box

where my parents keep the papers we’ll consult one day,
and all the pretty boxes–Russian lacquered ladies,
hand-carved hummingbirds–that used to adorn my dresser,
filled with costume jewelry I never wore, now pushed

against a wall on a shelf under a forgotten dormer.
There were boxes of cords and old electronics, hardware
destined for the landfill, warped bank statements,
expired gift certificates, living wills, preschool papers,

a dog’s ashes and the tree for him we never planted.
The air conditioner from the big box store I bee-lined for,
eight months pregnant and summer swollen. And don’t forget
the boxes we squeezed ourselves into–male, female,

gay, straight, single, separated, married, divorced,
African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Caucasian,
introvert, extrovert. And finally, my favorite box of all:

5 thoughts on “Boxes

  1. Jennifer says:

    I once had the fun opportunity to interview one of my musical heroes, David Byrne, for a book on journals. When I got to his office, his assistant ushered me into a big room with a long table that had mismatching children’s chairs around it. On the table was a lone cardboard box that had packing tape around it. It was labeled “Deep Storage” and turned out to hold his journals, datebooks, notebooks, and a set of Spanish-English flashcards he’d made for his daughter. Love Deep Storage as an emotional metaphor. Also can relate to going through so many literal and really hard hard boxes in the past two years since my divorce and also since my dad’s death. – thanks for the post!


    • Jena says:

      “Deep Storage.” I love that (and David Byrne). It reminds me of either Ben Cohen or Jerry Greenfield–I never remember which one–who I’ve heard periodically goes into “Deep Vacation” mode.



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