Poetry Friday: Box

The topic for the Poetry Sisters’ December Challenge was Box. We met to write and brainstorm on Boxing Day, after opening a few boxes on Christmas. Box is such a rich topic: boxes of chocolate, thinking outside the box, boxes of family heirlooms in the basement, feeling boxed in. They constrain and contain, have sides, edges, vertices, volume (we study them in math). They store ashes for interment and prisoners for internment. Flat ones are glowing digital screens. And there are windows, doors, blank notebook pages, the space for a signature, the place to mail a letter. A delivery van is a rolling box filled with boxes in which are boxes…all headed to the building-box known as the food pantry which is a place where those who are boxed in by financial constraints can fill a box and some bellies.

Such a rich topic.

There are also poetry forms that pose as boxes. The 4 x 4 poem is a kind of box, and Lewis Carroll, the avid mathematician, gives us the square poem form.

I combined “thinking outside the box,” my boxes of embroidery floss/threads, and these two forms in my poems. “What next?” is a big question for me as I finish up the year of weekly embroidery mandalas. My 4×4 poem addresses that question, while my square poem reassures me that I will find my way.



Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Patricia has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reverie, and the call for roundup hosts is here. January’s looking a little thin, but I have faith! The schedule always fills!

The box image is via Unsplash.

15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Box”

  1. I LOVE that your 4×4 ended up being in conversation with your embroidery mandalas! This is wonderful, Mary Lee, thank you.


  2. Your mandalas all year long (congratulations!) have been this small, beautiful, expansion of your heart and ideas and opinions and world. I’ve so enjoyed seeing them all year, and I’m glad you’re poetically pondering, What’s next?


  3. Mary Lee, you have dazzled us with your beautiful mandelas. Your embroidery box must hold such fascinating memories of 2022. I found your opening an inspirational prose poem followed by a lovely 4×4 but the square poem intrigues me the most. You did a fabulous job with its flow and content. Happy New Year.


  4. The phrasing of “Needle, thread, fabric, time” is probably not soothing to anyone who doesn’t stitch, but my goodness, it’s soothing to me. How will I get better at this? WHEN will I get better at this? Why do I do this? That formula holds many answers, including to the question, “What will I make?” Lovely.


  5. “Celebration of minutiae”–minute-by-minute, week-by-week, stitch-by-stitch gratitude. I crave your kind of discipline, my friend, and I’m grateful for the joy that each week’s embroidery brought me. Whatever is next will be a similar gift to the world. When will we get to see all 52 in one place? Ohhhhhh–I can just go to Instagram, can’t I! (And don’t forget to make the mandela mandala : ) )


  6. Celebration, Amplification, Validation, all of joy in your making the mandalas, and now the finishing poems, Mary Lee. I have loved that you shared all the year. It is an amazing project you took for the year. I know I’ve said I imagine a beautiful quilt/wall hanging but you have the photos, perhaps a special photo book with your words, too? Kudos to you and cheers for 2023.


  7. What will I make is a great question for the new year. It reminds me of the poem “What do teachers make”. Was it Taylor Mali? Anyway I know whatever you make will be beautiful and kind and precious. I have loved your mandalas. You inspire me to take up stitching.


  8. Whatever it is that you make, it will thoughtful and beautiful. You continue to inspire me with your adventures as an artist. Love the question poem…such a good one to share with students.


  9. I love your opening brainstorming/free-wheeling riff on boxes as much as I love your poems, which is saying a lot because I adore both of them. They are delicate and hold your thoughts exactly so we can also see them and ponder the questions and choices along with you. I am inspired. Thank you.


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