After Nora Meiners

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”
Mary Oliver

He filled this box with every moment
he exhaled your name with cigarette smoke.
The fumes solidified into a black ball of clay
shaped like the first time he ever called you
beautiful. You don’t roll the ball in your fingers,
it is too soft and your hands are too clumsy.

This box is full of pages and pages
ripped from the answer key of a
Calculus textbook, showing only
the odd-numbered answers. If you
take all the pages out, they sound like
waves crashing in on themselves.

This box is full of every rock he cracked open
in search of fossils. It doesn’t look big enough
to walk into, but somehow you can anyway.
You wonder why you fit so perfectly nestled
among the stones, why all of a sudden your
skin is crumbling off into particles of dust.

It is the shape and size of his car. There is
nothing inside, but you spend days in it
thinking that you’re looking out of the front
windshield. You see a horizon where you finally
tell him you love him, forgetting that you can,
or want, to get out of this box at all.

When you hold this box against your ear
you hear someone whisper, “I need you.”
You’re forced to wonder if it’s the sound
of your own blood coursing in your body,
or if the box is just a chamber amplifying
the silence of your empty, empty room.

Allison Truj is a junior Writing, Literature & Publishing major at Emerson College and a seasonal minimum-wage paleontologist at an animatronic dinosaur amusement park. She represented Emerson College at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, and is a host and the assistant publicity manager for the Emerson Poetry Project. When she tweets about crying, it is usually not true.

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