Originally published in the now defunct 13 Chairs journal.
The Fragments You Carry
One box always carried
is a cardboard Ziploc container.
It could be the quart size,
the gallon size,
or even the sandwich size.
the plastic sealable bags,
are not the important things.
With each military ordered move—
seven in fifteen years between
five states and one foreign country—
it is among the last boxes
removed from the house or apartment
that was your base,
where you celebrated Christmas,
away from your family,
for two or three years.
The bags are mostly gone.
They were used to secure the toiletries,
the mint toothpaste,
the lavender scented deodorant,
the red and green toothbrushes,
and the overpriced pumpkin spice body lotion
you wouldn’t dare throw away,
even if it is only one-third full,
in the suitcase that sits by itself
by the door with the cleaning supplies and oils
the movers would not take,
the glass cleaner you used yesterday,
the full bottle of rubbing alcohol,
and the half used olive oil
you will need to discard
in the overfilled trash can at the curb,
after you close the door one final time.
The cardboard box remains to pick up
the rest of your things:
the permanent markers,
the bottle of Tylenol,
the loose change,
the card from a friend wishing you a safe journey,
the receipt from your favorite pho restaurant
and the cheap vodka you had last night.
The final physical fragments of your former home
that will be emptied and thrown away
first at your next destination.