Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Box Upon You

photo © Mark Butkus 2015

A lifetime of memories secreted into boxes
Forgotten for a moment in suburban storage
One time zone away from the here and now
Where life is lived with a zest and a zeal
that can't be constrained in corrugated cardboard

The boxes never crossed my mind
in Italy, Spain or Morocco
Not during summer or fall in New York
Alas, winter arrived as well as a New Year
The boxes beckoned, as did Chicago's cold embrace

Let movers deal with the bulk and the weight, I said
My first time up the 23 steps to our new abode
I can deal with the boxes but not with the rest
Back in Chicago our ancestral home (Why did they come here?)
Dealing with the weight of two separate lives

The bitching, the complaining, the moaning, the groaning
A back too weary to carry the past in taped, markered boxes
Too weary from spending a lifetime searching for you
Where is that pizza? That beer? That stamina from my youth?
Is that too, captured in a box?

Why is it that we tote our memories from one place to the next?
If they don't reside in our head they needn't reside in a box
No need for ephemera nor rhyming whattoozits
All that was wrapped in yesterday's news
is now revealed with a questioning look

Did we really need that?
No we didn't, but I'll never admit to the care that I took
gently placing our lives upon moved shelves and cabinets
Nor how I spoke to a box of catrinas and a new place we'd all call home
Nor the smell of the books that you insisted upon

What was that quote by an anonymous face on an anonymous night in anonymous New York?
What was the advice for what is to be left behind as a legacy?
Ah yes, at the end of life, leave behind a shelf of books
We will put pen to paper and publish or perish there will be a shelf
Rest assured that I will not be around to pack them in boxes.

 — Mark Butkus