The Dragon Box

 

Bought it in the 60’s for fifty cents at a flea market stall from

a beaded pseudo-hippie love goddess and here it is again

under old shoes on the floor at the back of a storage closet —

its cinnabar lacquer smooth to the touch, black reptilian monsters

spitting ornate flames, toxic scent still rising out of interior dank

 

Rummaging through the odds and ends of a miscellaneous life

I wonder at so much gone missing: souvenirs of travels I thought

I tossed inside, scribbled notes from lovers, photos of my children,

adventures I planned in my youth, the magic I expected

from the karma of the artist who gave spirits to the creatures

writhing across the surface of the wood in make believe mist

 

What’s left is my draft card, a tangle of funky chains once thought

cool for a man to hang around his neck, a silver cigarette lighter

inscribed with, “Those who forget history are bound to relive it,”

given to me on Christmas Day in a jungle hooch in Cambodia

by a soldier sent home early for going crazy, a gold tie pin

from years in the troughs of Wall Street dodging the feral 500’s,

Eugene McCarthy campaign button, carved ivory Buddha

and a peace dove ring that no longer fits

 

Life has been called a journey but journey is too grand a word

for such a small collection of people, objects, moments, a life

with too little time to gather those things I wanted for myself

and only a few afternoons left to lift the lid and inhale

the souls of distant dragons