Missing My Mom

HOPE CHEST

You built your box before I was born
With wood and nails, found or borrowed,
Bought or bartered, yours however earned.
I watched you tuck away your life,
Your longings, tears and screams, and
Private dreams you wrapped in paper
To hide from prying eyes like mine.

Such an ugly box to innocent eyes,
Ignorant eyes, knowing nothing of boxes
And the skill it takes to build one
That will last a lifetime.
I saw your box and said I could
Do better, with harder wood, strong glue,
New screws, and a fresh coat of paint.

My box would be bright and strong, and
Hold only happy memories from a
Bright, strong life. My life, lived better.
I’d show you how it could be done.
If only you had built a box like mine
Instead of your small box, stained dark
To hide those knots and imperfections.

But your box never broke even when
You banged the lid, frustrated that
You couldn’t find the memories you
Had tucked away for safe keeping.
And my paint peeled and cracked
As I searched for memories of my own,
Tucked away so carefully, yet still faded.

How foolish to think I could prove you wrong
When it came to boxes. Yours was just as strong,
And deeper than I ever realized. And mine
Had just as many knots and imperfections,
Hidden under that bright fresh paint.
I wish we had talked about choosing our wood,
Measuring and cutting, fitting and fastening.
I wish I had known why you built the box
You did, and what you thought of mine.

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