My knife zips through tape
and the box unfolds its wings.
I lift little pockets of emptiness,
their sleeves carefully tucked.
Each of these an embrace
in jersey knit, in waffle weave
or flannel, snug turtlenecks
and button-downs. This red one --
with the alphabet -- urges me
to measure each day: fall is coming,
bright goldenrod and schoolbuses
and soon sleeveless rompers
will seem as implausible
as the idea that you were ever
small enough to wear
what I place now
in a box which once held Pampers.
The packing tape screeches.
I seal the summer away.
There's a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov about doing whatever work is at hand with holy mindfulness and attention. In this way, he writes, we create a dwelling-place for God wherever we are. It's a teaching I've thought about often during these first nine months of parenthood, and it came to mind again when I saw this week's poetry prompt.
This week I've been swapping out Drew's wardrobe -- boxing up the clothes which have become too small, and unboxing the next set of hand-me-downs from our close friends whose son is a year and change older than Drew -- so that was the task which gave rise to the poem.
The third stanza contains a slantwise Psalm 90 reference. The line about measuring each day came, in part, out of practicing a musical setting for Psalm 90 (which my shul will use in our Yizkor / Memorial service on Yom Kippur) which includes the line "Teach us to treasure each day." That wording felt too precious for a mother poem like this one, but when I shifted it to "measure," I was happy with how it sounded.
Here's a link to this week's "Come One, Come All" post so you can see how others responded to this prompt.