Cardboard Box

I’m finally looking into the cardboard box
I brought home from my mother’s house
late last month;

The clementines she insisted I take and perched on top
have long since been eaten;
it’s been otherwise untouched
sitting in the corner of the yellow room.

Two pairs of my infant pajamas —
The yellow corduroy with the embroidered lion;
the faded white and green night dress.
She had remarked on the drawstring
she had sewn into the bottom,
how it was still there,
and the fold-over sleeves to keep me from scratching myself
as I slept in my crib.

My white shoes, too —
laces gone,
but still with their impossibly stiff soles;
my grandmother’s blue-and-white Canton ware,
wrapped in the 1975 Daily News
from Bowling Green, Kentucky.

That night,
just before I left,
we sat on the basement couch flipping through
faded Kodak prints, square with rounded corners,
(most taken before we moved into the house on the hill).

We paused at one where I wore that night dress,
standing with my sister
in the deep darkness of an evening east window.
There were others, too, from that forty-years-ago,
and she told me again about each one.

We had such fun, she said,
such fun.


18 thoughts on “Cardboard Box

  1. Arti

    Beautiful- feeling blessed to have come across this poem today. Before I get lost in trying to find the right words to express how much your words meant, I’ll just say- thank you.

  2. josna

    Painfully poignant. I suppose I see why it would be easier to eat the clementines than to reopen that box and all it evokes. And I suppose a mother’s sadness is a heavy weight for the son to have to carry. I read this with my own situation in mind of course, identifying with the mother even as my heart aches for the son. I couldn’t be with my son this Christmas/New Year, and the only thing he could say to me, interestingly enough, was to thank me for the clementines–via text message, of course.

    1. tac Post author

      Thank you, Eric, precious indeed. It’s amazing how much preciousness can fit inside a little cardboard box…or on the edge of a couch cushion… Be well~

    1. tac Post author

      Charlotte – What a gift, thank you so much. I wish that I had posted more of them recently. They’re in there somewhere… I hope you are well.


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