We move the same packed box from house to house,
off the ancestral farm, now overgrown
with glorious, inedible rhododendrons
into the rented basement of a mud-lot
seeded for next spring. We sweat through shirts
to lug it six flights up to a Brooklyn flophouse
with a view of the subway station, ship it freight
to Porto, Tripoli, Piraeus, through
the Bosporus, points east, where one of us
will wait all day at customs just to claim it.
Rumors put us in a Baku teashop,
wrangling with the owner over the right
to commandeer his brother’s pleasure boat
for the perilous night passage. How to convince
this gentleman? Our cargo is our right.
We fill out all the proper forms, insure
the contents (whatsoever they may be)
against flood, terrorism, sabotage,
human error and the will of god.
We learn the local pleasantries, and buy
blindness from every overcurious eye.
Press it to your ear: only the rustle
of your own cheek against it. Pierce its side:
no fleck of velveteen, no globe of blood.
Too small for a printing press, or plough, or cello,
too heavy for a gun, or a lock of hair,
it makes us wonder. Still, we can’t raise
the courage or nostalgia to relieve us
of its mystery, and carry it like thieves
more ruthless for their inability
to find a buyer. We will not survive it.