Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Original Purpose of the Box

The Original Purpose of the Box

In The Museum of Antiquities,
a guard in a gray uniform stands against the wall.
Once, he heard a woman say “I don’t believe.”
Once, he saw a child grow frightened.
Once, the guard told a man with an old camera
on his shoulder that photographs weren’t allowed.
Invention is a series of tragedies.
The original purpose of the box
was to contain the emptiness.
Though scholars once thought
it was invented as a place to hide

a length of silk, dagger
or a crucifix from a borrowed god.
In the middle of the room
is where the first box sits.
Tragedy is a series of inventions.
Each wall, the nuance of a different disgrace.
The floor, camel tongues stitched together.
The ceiling changed with the weather.
At night the guard takes the box home.
As he rides the bus it sits on his lap
as if it held his lunch or a gift.


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