When I was young, with innocent delight
I made a magic pinewood box.
And in this box I placed my SELF,
Confined, but even so, content and safe.
To grow together--box and soul--
That was my idea (foolish me).
So I set off to explore my life
As best I could in my wooden box.
Along the way appeared my family
And following came some friends as well.
A party, so they claimed, to celebrate
Me and my box--what a lovely thought!


With tools to carve and brushes to paint
They decorated the walls of my box with
Bas relief and intricate swirls of color.
So beautiful, but dispassionately not me or mine.
I cried, it's just the outside you've changed!
The inside remains completely dark and bare!
Oh--you'll be fine in there, they assured me,
There's nothing that we can do anyway.
So I let it go at that and stayed inside.
I reached out just once or twice, while they worked,
To change a detail, a line here or there--
But soon the box was warped beyond repair--
Its corners jabbing smartly at my sides
As outside pressed in and crowded my limbs.


And then with a frightening realization,
I sensed that I was growing and growing.
Even in that darkness and closeness of my box,
My ear--my toes--soon jutted out
(Another elbow through the walls).
They must have been blind, so blind,
Not to see my flesh upon their walls.
I cried a little--just a little,
But steeled myself quickly--away oh tears!
I screamed instead, let me out, let me out.
Outside they took a step backwards to admire
Their handiwork; and so they missed my cries for help.
The box held strong--the curse of my carpentry--
Its colors perhaps faded just a bit
While on the inside I crumbled in pain and shame.
Let me out, I whispered, let me out.
And so I stayed for many years.


A subtle tapping, a quizzical knock.
I felt someone jumping upon my box.
A familiar face, a friend indeed--
With open heart she shook my box.
Hello! Is someone in there? she asked.
Breathless I stared and again the knocks,
The cheerful greetings to me--not the box.
Hello! Is someone in there? she asked.
And slowly I twitched--moved a muscle a tiny bit.
I felt the box leave the ground--
Take flight straight up and up...would I stop?
Below I saw the people that I knew.
They gasped and groaned to see their box astray.
And suddenly I was outside, grasping box in arms.
I heard screams--who's that stranger on our box?
And promptly I and the box fell to the ground.


With reddened eyes and crooked fingers
The people surrounded the magic box and me.
What have you done with my poor baby?
Where did you take my trusted friend?
What is it you've done with my eldest son?
Who are you to hurt our special box?
And crushed by glares of unreasoning hate
I flung up my arms in humble despair.
Please, I asked, just listen to me.
This is my box--it has always been.
And in the crowd that familiar face
Rose and proclaimed, I believe.
A silence followed, glares disappeared.
I passed the box through the crowd
And followed it with a veil of tears.

Fall 1996