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Sport 19: Lightworks

Looking at Box Constructions by Joseph Cornell

page 28

Looking at Box Constructions by Joseph Cornell

They are small and self-contained, like dreams,
but they suggest lines of possibility,
and they can give you that awkward,
on-the-brink-of-love feeling.
The boxes stand now on glass shelves,
exhibits we cannot hold.
I read the texts and I think of Cornell
in his basement in Queens.
The boxes remind me of my father
working at his carpentry,
the smell of sawdust, of sweat, and glue.
And I think back to my childhood,
it, too, seems so remote,
a box to peer into, a place for memory.
Cornell's constructions ask us to note,
that a city is a history box,
we walk among the blocks, the houses,
we procrastinate and fall in love in cities.
And each day on earth is a kind of box.
If, as a metaphor of this particular day,
you were given a small wooden box,
what would you place inside?
Because it is high summer and I'm happy,
I'd place a piece of the sky, a poem,
a map of where I walked this morning.
And against forgetting, I'd include
one miniature correlate of love, and one of grief.
My Cornell box: small, self-contained, dream-like.