The japanned pine box

with its cold brass handle and clasp

makes an enigma of the room.

Opening it will be intimate, you think—

like the sudden glimpse of a heel

when she nips to the bath

leaving you and the bedposts to interpret

this new hush.

The box is burnished orange brown,

a finish the tint of Chilean Myrtle

or something choked with paprika,

with corners that could cut

like fishhooks. Watch your thumbs.

You want to poke about inside,

to shuck it open with an oyster knife,

spy in over the pine horizon,

and whisht you’re saying whisht

Inside? Maybe a bunch of shrunken heads;

a rosary of goats’ teeth, bone blushing;

a pair of rusty, rubber-handled pliers;

the peekaboo of a tarantula—

you are a horsefly learning immensity

at the brink of a donkey’s ear.

You can just picture shouldering it home

past bleeding candles, black veils,

mourners falling into step

and the shops closing on McCurtain Street.

Someone clips a leash on his dog.

This is the clock’s insomnia now—

your shoulder killing you all the way back

to a room on a numberless avenue

where blue snow is falling