19 December 2010

We are moving house.  Sylvia Plath says in an essay that the ‘poet becomes an expert packer of suitcases’, and we are testing this metaphor with countless boxes.  It’s astonishing how much stuff two people are able to accumulate in a small terraced house – just to clear out and pack up the office is a two-day job.

Packing away of course, is not always a quick and efficient job.  Things stored in the furthest away reaches of a house take time to look at as they so very rarely see the light of day.  I don’t have that many photographs of myself as a child, but I do have a box of old school books, which I unearthed yesterday.  First time I have seen it since I stowed the box five years ago when we had the office built.  The books are perfect time capsules – my curly girly handwriting, which was straightened out at art school; my obvious struggles revealed at an early age with all things numerical; the layers of lumpy Tipp-Ex, making mountains of small errors.

The books I have accrued for my PhD research have managed to fill two boxes, and inside one of those boxes is Vasko Popa’s collected poems, and inside that book is a sequence called ‘The Little Box.’  The following is the first poem of the sequence, which feels appropriate.

The Little Box

The little box gets her first teeth

And her little length

Little width little emptiness

The little box continues growing

The cupboard that she was inside

And she grows bigger bigger bigger

Now the room is inside her

And the house and the city and the earth

The little box remembers her childhood

And by a great longing

Now in the little box

You have the whole world in miniature

You can easily put in a pocket

Take care of the little box