Yours Truly, Pandora

I had safety and its rejection on my mind, obviously, and Greek myths, too.

Two exercises set this off, though it went no direction intended by either. One called for a poem that is directions for playing a children’s game. People of around my age may recognize some now-forbidden toys (three of them now banned in the US) that I played with as a kid, and survived. The other called for a poem about boxes, but specifically excluded Pandora’s box. To which I said “screw you,” and thus gave structure to my thoughts about lawn darts.

The gilding on the box is a little nod back to the vermeil in “Transmutational Grammar,” this poem’s partner in theme.

Yours Truly, Pandora

They cheated us, you know. You, me, that man singing along to the radio
In his car in the next lane, all of us. They cheated us, and I said no. Listen:
When we let go of what’s protecting us to death — from making mistakes, from
Slipping and sliding, from falling down, from getting back up on our own —
That we might grow straight and unscarred and defenseless, what awaits us then?
The bike without helmet or pads that we overturn on the blacktop? We’ll skin things,
Scrape things, bleed, all for the mystery of peeling the brown scabs from our knees
A week later and finding an oblong of silky pink beneath. Or will it be the lovely box
We’re forbidden to open, finely gilded and full of clackers and lawn darts and hope?

(2016)

(photo: Pandora by John William Waterhouse, via Wikipedia)

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