Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Traveling Box (sestina)

     This sestina appears in my book, The Leaf Catcher, and it describes how Corliss came in possession of the Traveling Box:

“I happened upon a minstrel, his health looking poor;
‘twas a stormy night and I took him in when no one else would.
He was very thankful and bestowed upon me a box,
assuring me ‘twas no ordinary container; it was magical.
‘Put into it what you do not possess
and it will be given back to you in kind.’

He said there was no other like it of its kind.
I asked him why he did not sell it since he was so poor.
And he replied that no greater gift may one possess
than the gift one receives when giving; that whosoever would
understand this would benefit most from the box’s magic.
 Otherwise it was nothing more than a mere box.

I graciously accepted, and asked how I was to use the box.
He foretold ‘twould be revealed to me by another who was kind,
and then he disappeared like magic.
Over and over the riddle did I pore,
but try as hard as I would,
the knowledge of how to use it, I could not possess.

I wondered at the mystery it possessed.
It truly seemed like a common box,
nine inches square and made of cedar wood,
no different than any other box of its kind,
except for one thing; whenever I tried to pour
anything into it, it was denied by its magic.

What was the point of this magic?
Why would anyone wish to possess
such a container that you could not pour
anything into? There must be some purpose to this box.
 I’ve been waiting for the prophesied one to tell me what kind
of contents could be placed within its wood.

Years went by and I began to wonder if anyone would
 ever appear to reveal the secret of its magic.
The minstrel had said ‘twould be one who is kind,
yet I have since met with many good people and none possessed
the answer to the secret of the box.
Over many ancient books have I pored,

but nothing of its kind was mentioned, nor would
it seem possible I could ever pour anything past the magic
that possesses the box.”

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