The box slips from my weakened fingers
into a vortex of jumble, two sharp pencils fall,
a tiny doll clutching a scroll I prise open.
Tell your worries to this doll it says. I refold
the note under her stiff little arms. A bundle
of coloured sticks tied with gossamer pink
thread, a paper plane made from a map of
Mid-Sussex, 2 dried rosebuds, a pearl button,
sea-frosted glass and a flat pebble. A stamp
claims I know my body better than you do.
A green label warns FIRST AID KIT
FOR THE MIND. A buff card addressed
to me: Box Launch, The Biscuit Factory.
Unopened since 2005. I read at random.
Don’t walk in a straight line. How to Deal
with Terrible News. Tell the doctor a joke.
I have to carefully repack your poems
in pink tissue. I spot a silvery green ribbon.
Nothing quite goes back the same way. My
fingers are impatient, clumsy, quavering.
This lucky box will undo harm you tell me.
I find the recipe for A Curative Soup ‘well
seasoned with tears and a secret’. The tissue
paper has somehow become old and split,
aged and careworn in the box, invaded by time
no charm can keep distant. In the Isle of Wight
you have a memorial bench. We borrowed you.
The luck was ours, the North a stopping place.
The box of curiosities spells out your gift
I bought for a friend, untouched by prescience,
who now lies in need of all its medicine. Who
knows, Julia, if one scrap will tip the balance, one
pearl button, one tiny marble, rolled like dice.
Julia Darling d. April 13 2005