Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Brief Life of a Box

By David Tucker

A long time ago a box
lay in a trash heap behind a blue jeans factory
in Linden, Tennessee. It was nothing to anyone,
just an ordinary, useless occupant of the light,
a bland statement: "Union Manufacturing" stenciled in bold,
black letters on its side like an urge
to be important. Then one day
a man in a green pick up noticed the box,
stopped and threw it on the truck bed,
took it away. That afternoon
he filled it with leaves from the hill
behind his house, hauling load after load until nightfall.
The next week he burned the box in a garden
where he had been burning leaves and junk
for years. His son, always looking around
for signs like this, saw the fire
and thought of Abraham and sacrifices
as the box obediently became smoke
and ashes. The man sprinkled the ashes
on a tomato bed and the tomatoes were eaten
in August. Eventually they said a few words in a prayer
that sounded like "Oh help us dear Lord."
It was a summer for strange events like that.
The boy’s mother was in the asylum, hearing voices.
Boxes became heroes, tomatoes made you pray.
It seemed she would never come back.

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