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