13.12.06

on the receiving end

in the spirit of gift giving, i give you this poem about anonymous and worrisome giving, written by helen cho, who i would like to send packages of apples and fragrant lemons, with petal designs cut out with linoleum block tools. and this carved ivory pipe from the paris flea market, which i stole away with on my memory card.



A box of


I have received a box of
dirt and snow, a box as wide
as my shoulders, deep as myself. It is loosely taped:
I dig out a stone,
a can of soup, a cold white handle
bereft. It is immensely heavy. A metal
plate at the bottom of it, an inch thick.
He might have eased it onto a dolly.

It is hard to tell who might have begun
to pack such things. Someone idle, proud
of the present tense, someone
who tells himself stories
of power and desire.
I could be wrong, of course.

I am no friend, but a person he has
seen once or twice.
Not one he speaks to
any day of the week.
But he's seen enough to ascertain I will be
surprised, frightened,
and, at last, alone.

I can only imagine
one who might build a box
and fill it with apples and lemons, a handful of cotton
and coffee beans. Red pears, dried fruit.
Perhaps I am sheltered. Perhaps there is a
history I have overlooked.
Perhaps everyone sends such boxes
once and I am only now caught up.

I dig out an emptied ring,
a small red wrench, a child's shoe, and,
at last, a black banana
so soft it goes liquid.
I should lock my car.

There are no apples, lemons,
no small tree with delicate roots,
asparagus, white.
Nothing one might welcome.
What does this person mourn?
I cannot sleep at night for wondering.
My hands are cold,
delving through blackness. Something to keep,
I want something
to keep.

11 comments:

Kelly said...

See? Now that's poetry. Or call it prose if you wish. Either way, you read it and you say, "this person is GOOD with language."

Delicious!

K

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