What would our ancestors say if we brought them back out of the basement?
What would they think when they saw the sun?
Too much plastic! they’d shout, horrified.
Too much plastic everywhere!
We see it in your children’s names!
We see it in your bananas and your bread!
We see it in the softness and the hardness of your dreams,
sometimes malleable, sometimes thin and crisp, sometimes thick and heavy,
and we even see it in your sneezes, coughs, yawns, and laughs!
When they were young, you see, there was no plastic.
They were built from other materials, perhaps subtler, if more primitive.
Some of them, the ones closest to the entrance to the basement,
huddled by the old air conditioner and the cardboard box with socks in it,
grew up in a world where everything was made of bronze.
Bronze is majestic. It catches and reflects sunlight without trivializing it.
Bronze runs in kings’ blood.
Bronze has none of the angry solemnity of iron, but all of its dignity.
Bronze is beautiful in daytime.
The older ones, seated at the back, picking their fingernails, muttering,
carved their lives out of stone.
Stone is more diverse than it gets credit for.
Stone can be sandy and yellow, and have snakes and lizards all over it.
Stone can be cavernous and produce echoes and make people feel small.
Stone can be cut into great white blocks and stacked, and intimidate.
Stone can tower.
Stone can be a small, happy temple, high on a stone mountain, for people to sing out of.
There are many others,
all with different memories of what the core of the earth looked and felt like.
They don’t talk too much. They tend to keep to themselves.
It’s probably better to leave them in the basement.
Here is my poem
It begins with a big box
they used the box to move
they are a family somewhere
and they moved to a house
and put their things in a box
I had never seen such a big box before
the box was made of cardboard
they fit bicycles and toothbrushes
and clothes and a toaster
and clocks and some books
and other things inside the big box
the U-Haul was late
in a bedroom in the old house
I wrote some words with a marker
right next to where a bed was
before they took it apart
and put it in the big box
“I lived here This is my name Goodbye house” or something
Finally I went inside the box
it smelled like mothballs inside
I had my own room
a bicycle wheel spun noisily
I stayed very quiet
Age 16, Grade 11
Saint Ann’s SChool