The Box

by Justin Boening

Once, long ago,
though it could have been
yesterday, I spotted a box
bobbing (it was swaying)
in a nearby inlet. I threw a line
into the waters and fished it out
with a green green net.
Even sodden, wilting, it rattled
when I shook it. It seemed
important that it be opened,
which is to say I couldn’t open it;
it unfolded as if by itself.
I wanted to hold it
by my side, between my feet,
in the middle of the boat
(the boat was rocking),
but dropped it out of fear.
I was afraid to peer
inside, and yet I peered
inside. And in it, at the bottom
of it—I don’t remember
what was in it, but remember
it smelled of piss, fermented sugar,
and that the wind, when it swept
into it, whined and pulled
like an animal insane at the end
of his chain, which is to say
that what was in it now
seems beside the point,
but that it was there
or allowed itself
to be seen, or that it wasn’t
for me but was mine,
however briefly. I’d give it
to anyone who lives
to fight for the living.
But who can be sure who
the living are anymore.

Last updated December 03, 2022