The Box – John Chrostek

You are living in a box
Growing smaller. You were born inside the box,
and it has been a part of you (apart from you)
forever, like a shadow is and isn’t, like the walls
the shadows play on or the fires that cast them.
A shadow is its light. In such a manner, so’s the
box.

You can fit the universe inside the box, a dio-
rama of the sacred Things that make your
box your own and no one else’s, or so they
say. Anything can be inside the box: the moon,
its gentle hand, ripe geraniums in spring, even
the rare sight of a hundred people who all
somehow still like each other running in a field
just by the river. Everything can fit inside the
box, all volume a finite limit spread out to the
boundary walls of the box. Just never further.

The walls are closing in a little every day. Your
apartment was never so tiny, your scooter was
a van or a station wagon, it was the Mystery
Machine, it fit like twenty in the back, but the
box is definitely shrinking and now there is no
room for mystery.

What it is that you remember and what it is that
you still got has all got to fit inside the box.

You want to cry about the box, try to cut out all
the clutter so what matters inside pops, but there’s
no popping out the box. There’ll never be a
window or a door that’ll take you out the box.
You could be an angry little man about the box.
You could build a big ol’ drill inside the box,
make it the sharpest, hardest thing that’s ever
been inside the box, the great almighty Babel
Phallus designed by the minds of heaven
to break us free of the box, but if there was
something tough enough to get
outside the box, that isn’t the wall.
That isn’t the box.
You used to have a yard inside
the box, but the yard has been
condensed a little, and outer
space is waiting for you, just
at the end of the street.

You’re wearing a little
spacesuit in the box (sweet),
but also a wide-brimmed
sun hat, on account of
how much you love
summer.

Summer used to be so
great inside the box.
You can see a world,
looking outwards,
that might could be
beyond the box.

It’s the spot someone
would be standing to
get a look inside the box,
and say aloud “Oh, look
at that, that’s lovely.”
But you’ve never seen
somebody there.
You wish so often you
did.

So you look to what
surrounds you in your
little box, that which
casts a light or moves
like shadow, the people
stuck inside it all with
you, the little bits of dream
you save every day the box
gets smaller,
to keep your soul
in motion, the colors,
lights and sounds collaged
beside you that let you
Know this box has been
your home,

that you are all your memories
and your joys, that this box of
yours has not been yours alone
to die inside.

If there’s really nothing
else outside the box,
those memories
and people are
everything.
They’re as you
as you will
ever get

to be.



John Chrostek is a Pushcart-nominated poet, playwright and author who works at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. His work has been featured in publications such as Artemis, River Heron Review, and Cathexis Press.

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