The Box

by Beth Woodcome Platow

To us it’s cardboard, but to you it’s the magic box, where you enter as yourself
and come out a car, a pony, an Indian. We tell you to say Native American,
because it’s right to say that now, except for Auntie Jill who studied Indian law.
I know, sweetheart, it’s confusing. You are three right now and things are not
as they seem. You’re three right now, you see a picture of female anatomy
at the doctor’s and you ask if you, too, have little fists inside of you. You do, you do.

You have a history I’m scared to tell you, and not only your German side. For that we’ll visit Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald, and we’ll quietly notice the quiet,
the impulse to say I’m sorry to the empty space, to try to exist without shame
in the center of our shame. Your eyes are so blue.

All the while I’ll whisper in your ear: You’re good, you’re good.

But you need to know that you are also possible. Inside you there is a darkness that we’ll need to manage. I’m not scared of you. I’m scared of us.

We have a photo on the wall, of your great-grandfather walking with Martin Luther King. You look at it sometimes. Right now you’re three, so he’s just another man, with a tie. We don’t know the day, but it will come when we tell you this history.
The history of skin, the history of ships. The history of taking other people’s things. By things we mean: names, land, bodies, children.

You go inside your magic box and you come out a wolf, wolf, wolf, wolf, wolf, wolf.
If you say it long enough it will lose its meaning, and we wonder if it’s always a wolf.

Published on July 26, 2014