A Box of Blue

by Betty Adcock


Begin with a box. Imagine it made

of ordinary and exotic woods:

yellow pine and rosewood, mahogany

and oak, hickory and ebony,

mixed every which way: mosaics,

shape-shifting inlays. It can expand

to hold a sunset, a whole landscape.

Or shrink to the size of a seashell,

to the size of a small bell’s sound.

Not all keepsakes can be held

in trunks or drawers or albums.


The blue-eyed grass you used to bring in from your run,

each slender spear tipped with a flash of sky.

The indigo bunting that lit the wild plum trees

one by one ahead of us along the hiking trail.

Your silver flute ribboning through our house

Debussy changing to Miles Davis recreating blues.

The great blue heron that haunted our little pond,

lifting from the deck like a widening fan.

Cycladic cobalt evenings scattering

stars and poppies on the shawl of dark.

And the Aegean blue that followed us

everywhere, its shallows clear as soft-tinted glass.


The stones beneath that blue sea’s edge

polished by waves and visible, auroral.

Outsized blue moon we saw in Abilene.

the street in Dallas where we kissed in rain.

Blue-white scent of gardenias you sent to me

in the blank desert place I didn’t want to be.

Jazz Under the Stars in Central Park.

Dizzy at Birdland in blue-clouded air.

We painted the nursery robin egg’s blue, and hung

yellow curtains. We brought our daughter home.


This pliant ark holds everything. I’ll open it

again and again to the other time I cannot lose,

to other colors, other stories

of hours and days and years we had –

so many and so close.


– for Don 1925-2011