Why Am I Lying in a Box?

Because it fits me
like a ruby slipper.

Because taking up snakes is illegal
in every state but West Virginia.

The box is my gift horse.
Don’t look it in the mouth.

But what if being sawn in half
makes nothing happen?

(What if I click my heels?
What if I click three times?)

I’m deathly afraid
of death by regret

and of the mad and their lousy
weather.

After Hours, the Box (All Lacquer and Gold Locks) Foretells:

the monarchy, to survive, must put on a show
for the people

Lo! The future has five sides & a lid.
On the top of the lid is painted Curtains,
on the underside, Sky.

Sky a Magritte blue, like an empty coat.
Ache persistent as a battlefield.

My mama was a gypsy wagon, my papa
a pine box draped with a flag.

As is, always was, ever will be.

(Once, I watched the gypsies carry the saint
down to the sea. I was a baby, & they
wrapped me in flowers & a sequined shawl.)

I’ll show you, the king said. But I saw his fate
in the bottom of his cup.

Lo! The populace will vote in a new king.
Lo! He will provide for us another war.

Sue Burton

SUE D. BURTON is a Physician Assistant specializing in women’s health care. Her poetry has previously appeared in Green Mountains Review and in Beloit Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, and on Verse Daily.

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