Justin Boening
The Box

Once, long ago,

though it could have been

yesterday, I spotted a box

bobbing (it was swaying)

in a nearby inlet. I threw a line

into the waters and fished it out

with a green green net.

Even sodden, wilting, it rattled

when I shook it. It seemed

important that it be opened,

which is to say I couldn’t open it;

it unfolded as if by itself.

I wanted to hold it

by my side, between my feet,

in the middle of the boat

(the boat was rocking),

but dropped it out of fear.

I was afraid to peer

inside, and yet I peered

inside. And in it, at the bottom

of it—I don’t remember

what was in it, but remember

it smelled of piss, fermented sugar,

and that the wind, when it swept

into it, whined and pulled

like an animal insane at the end

of his chain, which is to say

that what was in it now

seems beside the point,

but that it was there

or allowed itself

to be seen, or that it wasn’t

for me but was mine,

however briefly. I’d give it

to anyone who lives

to fight for the living.

But who can be sure who

the living are anymore.



Found In Volume 47, No. 04
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  • Justin Boening
Justin Boening
About the Author

Justin Boening is the author of Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last, a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, as well as Self-Portrait as Missing Person, which was awarded a Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. He is the cofounding editor of Horsethief Books.