“Getting Out the Demon Box”
The box’s cold presses in from a foot away.
We regard each other a while, wondering what to say.
I run my hand up my dress, finger the fuse, ignite –
And in my light the box seems now to glow.
With stupid fingers, I undo the lock below its golden latch,
nurse its rattling with my thumb until together we lift the hatch.
Relief: it sticks a moment as if painted shut.
But then gives way to bursting smoke and dust.
I dump it in a rush as if to contain
what I’m unleashing here again.
In the new light, with the old, blue smoke cleared,
these demons look small and frail. We neared
oblivion together, before I locked them in this trunk
of wood, paint, and pretending. I meant to burn it.
I don’t know why I waited—intuition or funk.
A sleepless year, braced and listening for hoofbeats, drums, war.
After a time, when the world did not end and the door
had stayed closed until it seemed safe,
I resolved to brave their strafe.
Time, distance, the magic of running away?
Something turned my demons into hay.
They’ll never be gold, I know that by now.
What I want to know is how
they seemed so big, mean, and loud
when all along they were small, sad, and cold.
All stories seem like noise until they can be told.