LXIX: “JOSEPH CORNELL”

It is summertime,
and I am eleven, standing in a friend’s barn,
looking up.

Instead of floors,
this barn has many rafters
on which big squares of plywood have been placed
forming levels like an arcade game.

From the rafters hang mountain bikes
and garden rakes
wheels and tie-downs and bungee cords.

Three walls are open to let the sun and air drift over
the tractor and tiller and riding lawnmower.
The back wall is tin, and through it I can see
tiny punches of sky,
like little stars in the daytime.

I want to live here,
bunk up in the roof and let the warm rain drop a pounding curtain around me in spring,
chickens softly plucking around the powdery dirt floor below.

In the daytime, spend my hours
taking the tractor apart and putting it back together again,
and replacing the ripcords on weedwhackers
and oiling the tusks of the brushhog.

Now, standing in front of a suitcase
Joseph Cornell has put a universe inside
folding each star into a blue drawer
and tucking the sun behind a hatband,
I am right back in that barn,
a glass hush descending as the world pours itself into a jar
and blows out the candle.

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