My boxes

Over the years
I have accumulated
a shelf of plain brown boxes
carefully taped up
unlabelled
sitting quietly
bothering no one.

A few years ago
a box was opened
and I watched my marriage
slowly dissolve
like soap in the shower.
I do not regret the box opening
but I still bear
a few cuts and bruises
that sting in the hot water.

At the same time
I chose to open a different box
and spent many months
at the physical therapist
in pain and blood
and fire
and emerged on the other side
stronger
but not completely unscathed
new scars
now healing over.

The next box
opened on its own
offered me paper and pen
and words I could not stop
a new purpose
a great happiness
I had forgotten was possible.

And the other boxes sat quietly.
I thought I could ignore them
just for a time
until I could recycle used cardboard
dust the empty spaces
restack and reorder them.

But no
it seems I must open a few more
right now.
Wait, wait, I say
one box at a time.
Can’t I just pull back the flaps
and peek at what’s inside?

But I already know what’s lurking
behind plain brown squares.
Makes me want to push my boxes
deep into corners.

I’m so afraid
one of these days
I will open a box I cannot handle.
I will disappear inside
someone will tape up the box
and I will sit
on a dusty shelf forever.

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