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


  1. ha...we tote quite a few boxes through out moves...some unopened in years....do we need them...prob not...i guess there is some assurance in them...i try to catch as many of mine and put them on paper as i can...at least then others can share them and be done with them...smiles.

    1. Happy New Year my friend! If it wasn't for the fact that I can't settle down I'd love to settle down and never have to deal with Pandora's Box.

  2. Good thing for photo apps, not we can keep memories where ever we go. Be fore than it was really a lot of work at keeping them. I get this. I lost a storage bend of some of my best things.

    1. I am grateful for the digital age...three external hard drives...a dozen photo cards...and the space they create. I no longer have albums or cds and as hard as it is for me to wrap my head around the idea of a virtual bookshelf I do see a day when all my books will be Kindled or whatever the leap is after Amazon goes the way of the Amazon rain forest.

  3. I have been a paper collector for eons,
    and I lived in CA for a decade, leaving
    over 2,000 lbs. of boxed ephemera
    in storage. Cost me a mint to rent a
    truck a year later and go after it,
    bringing it to WA state. That was
    25 years ago, and only in the last
    few months, now that I'm retired,
    have I opened those boxes, and began
    the culling, cutting, saving, and dumping.

  4. Enjoyed reading your observations on your moving experience. One never realizes how much 'stuff' one actually owns until they have to move! I think I would always want the familiarity of my favorite books around me, wherever I live. No money is ever wasted that is spent on a good book (and apparently a good mover too!!)

    1. The older I get, the more moves that I make the more that I value a good mover with a good back!

  5. Yeah I never know how much crap I have until I move. Then half of it gets thrown out or sold anyway, why we hang on all this crap sometimes is beyond me.

  6. i'm not much of a collector...as you say..we need to have the memories and treasures in our head and heart instead in boxes..

  7. I keep many boxes and sometimes glad I do for I forget the good times so quickly.