THE BOX

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The Box                            

He tried to put me in a box,
not a happy choice.
Put a cat in a box,
disaster will befall
So, don’t try with me.

I warn you, I will mess up
every box on that form will overflow.
When and where were I born?
Do you work or not.

I only sprained my toe.
I say with a sigh.

Wherever we go, we tick boxes,
fill in forms with narrow spaces for lives lived.
panic, the line is too short,
My life doesn’t fit at all.

I pray there will never be a form,
a form for a “home” for the old.
I couldn’t do that at all.
I rather take what I own, and flee.
To somewhere with no boxes to fill.

Where young and old live together
With honour, respect and joy.
Where we all share and help.
Live in dignity.

© miriam ivarson

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50 thoughts on “THE BOX

  1. What a tender, poignant yet important comment on our society Miriam. You’ve managed to expertly convey your thoughts yet still make the reader think, and in doing so hopefully come to the same viewpoint. This is a very clever write. Thank you.

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  2. Dear Nigel, thank you so much for this deeply understood poem. I was worried it would seem a bit quirky.:) it is indeed a comment on our society and my worry that we get diminished as living beings, full of vitality and creativity.
    You are yourself a great sample on what we can do in the face of difficulties.
    Sending you sunny and snow glittering regards from my hideout in the woods 😊 .
    Miriam

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  3. A very thoughtful poem, Miriam. Sometimes it is hard though, as some elderly people need full time care and a home can be the only choice. I am keeping my parents with me unless it become impossible and they need nursing.

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  4. Thank you Robbie for your response. Of course both older and young sometimes …..or often? need full time care. And I bless all these who give them that then. There can be medical reasons both mental and physical.

    I say in my poem that I pray it will not happen to me, well knowing that fate is something we don’t know.
    When people need care I would love to see a system that showed respect and honoured all. In this I know you will agree.
    Miriam 🦋

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  5. The box is a powerful image to convey how societal norms oppress the less privileged and gloat over their empty power… ‘A Cat’ could scratch all those who try to mess with her…only if she explores her power! A thought-provoking poem Miriam…love and respect is all we need to live yet the world is so complicated!
    “What man has made of man” lamented Wordsworth ages ago!

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    • Thank you Balroop for your great response. I think those cats can be quite powerful when needed..😊 . I am glad you found the poem thought provoking and place high value on honour and respect.
      Wordsworth is so right and I like your quote.
      miriam

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  6. My mother once wrote on a hospital admittance form in the blank line for SEX: “Yes. Twice. Once for each of my children.” They called her to the reception desk and told her “what we mean is” and got an ear full of “Then you should ask for what you want.” You’re are correct. Our lives can’t be told inside the boxes. Sadly, though? Many can be.

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    • Thank you for your fun and also serious response. I love your mother’s guts.:) , often been tempted to write something along those lines. The serious thing is here that they took for granted she was not intelligent enough to understand….this is one of the points I hate.
      Yep, we don’t fit in, what about paperwork that fit humans?
      Miriam

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  7. Miriam; you are so right. “I am not a number; I am a person”. Your post got me onto the net for Pete Seeger. “Little Boxes”. Or, as Dylan Thomas would say on another topic, “Rage, rage”.

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  8. Thank you Peter for your comment. Yes, we are all individuals and want to be recognised as such. Even those who seemingly have forgotten much still deserve the same dignity.
    miriam

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  9. What a beautiful place that would be, Miriam. I love when pieces of writing come to me at just the right time. Your poem is one of those. I’ve felt exactly the same as of late filling out form after form and thinking how people are much more than boxes they check or short blank spaces to fill in that really tell nothing of the person.

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    • Thank you and how happy I am that these words met you at just the right moment. I know what you mean, that happens to me too. I read something and either I can laugh again or just cope better.
      What about if we write a little poem or just thoughts and stapled them to the forms showing that we are real! Alive! Fun! Sad! Scared! Frustrated!
      We want to be…just be us.
      miriam

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  10. Miriam, I don’t know how you do it!! 😀 For the first part of your poem I felt the constraints of the metaphorical box, being restrained, one’s life, spirit being held hostage to all sorts of expectations – even just silly forms over an injured toe! The mind boggles! As usual, your poems twists and turns – taking on an all-encompassing view of all our lives, the freedom they need, how we should live united, old and young, caring, supporting each other equally. Finally, Miriam, there is no form that can hold you within its grasp – your spirit I fear will always fly high and far! A wonderful poem and one that will stay with me .. and I’ll always think of it when filling in forms!! Hugs xxx

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    • Annika, thank you so much for this beautiful response. I am astonished that anyone would see all this in my words. It makes me really happy and I do realise that I do not know what is good or not. I am glad you understood it all so deeply. As to my spirit flying I do believe you are right and I will do my best to mess up all forms in my way.😊💕 miriam

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  11. I love the subtlety and sensitivity you have used in this excellent poem Miriam. It has always remained a mystery to me why we always try to fit people into the boxes. In essence, we are all free spirits and a box is the worst place where we could be. Your last verse offers some hope.

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    • Davy, thank you for this warm and strong response. I am so glad you share this lack of understanding as to why we should be made smaller than we were born to be. You beautifully say that we are all in essence free spirits.
      There should be better ways to keep order than boxes….especially small ones.😊 .Yes, there is always hope, this we need to believe.
      miriam

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      • I think this starts at school Miriam. I can only speak for the UK, but they seem to want to squeeze the free spirit at an early age. (that was my experience) If you don’t fit into any of their boxes it makes like difficult.

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  12. I cringe at the thought of being in a box. I had to read a whole lot to convince myself dogs like those tight spaces at night. I can’t even stand putting a collar on my dog (granted, he would never run away so I’m safe with that decision).

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  13. Jaqui, thank you for your fun answer. You would also mess up that box, tear it to pieces. You cringe at doing this to your dog and yet we humans are often diminished this way emotionally.
    Off we go, antibox march on the go…with fun music leading.😊
    miriam

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    • Thank you Diana, I am glad you felt this too.
      If you let this, at times demeaning behaviour, continue I worry it will affect who we are and we might loose our free spirit and courage.
      You can’t win them all; I know. 😊
      miriam

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  14. I’ve given a great deal of thought to this over the years, Miriam. I worked in long-term care for many years and decided long ago that I would not be boxed and labeled. When my time comes, I’m taking my scared objects and heading for the wilderness. I’ll find an accepting tree, open my sacred bundle, beat my drum and sing my way into eternity… Lovely thought-provoking poem, my friend ❤

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  15. Thank you Tina for this in depth and knowledgeable response.
    Having had such close knowledge of what I talk about makes you even more able than see the truth.
    I fear I would give into depression if I were boxed and labelled.
    I like your wild idea about heading for a tree in the wilderness with your sacred objects. Would you bring some friends with you to chant?
    We are crackers, aren’t we.🦋

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  16. Miriam,
    This is a heartfelt testament of our social reality, but what I find that makes it all palatable is the humor or quirkiness that underlines this poem. Just as sugar can make the medicine go down, a bit of humor can bring the seriousness of a situation to the forefront.

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  17. Thank you for your response JC. Yes, it is heartfelt. Shrinking the fullness of a people and their lives is so wrong as is treating anyone without respect and dignity.
    Humour is like a light shining on the dark and making it stand out more. So yes, I like you can see this in the poem. I guess you have seen Sound of Music some time.:)
    miriam

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  18. I love how the lighthearted feel makes the message stronger. And the way you showed all the different meanings or feelings for boxes is brilliant. This makes me want to live out under the trees, with no boxes to be seen.

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  19. Thank you for your beautiful comment. I am really glad that you can see
    that lighthearted touch was there to show up the ” boxes” more.
    Yes, living under a tree could be fun in the right weather…😊. Maybe find where the climate is good.
    miriam

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  20. Julie, thank you for your warming response. I am afraid I honestly feel shaky
    when presented with these formats of questions. I do realise that records need to be kept but could they not be presented in a more humane form.
    💕 miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I love how your poem travels from cats in boxes … a sensation of delightful surprise. I agree with you when considering the fate of some of us in later years…I have heard of programs perhaps in countries other than yours or mine, I am not sure, that bring together old and young in community…

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  22. Thank you Janice for your comment and yes, the cat in the box was to bring some lightheartedness into what I find exessevily robotic…the form filling everywhere.
    As to young and old in the society I can’t see a problem unless either party is in need of hospital care for illness; be it mental or physical.
    Unless the older person prefers it.
    I admit I am influenced by a happily mixed childhood where I can only recall one lady in her nineties wanting to move into a home.
    Quite unique I guess but as a child or youngster I found it enriching as there was always someone to listen and tell fascinating tales.
    Miriam

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  23. Boxes can be a tricky thing, I feel, sometimes more than useful other times harming, especially metaphorically speaking when you´re put in a box you feel you don´t belong to or do the same thing with someone else… A very lovely and thought provoking piece of stunning poetry, Miriam! 🙂

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  24. Thank you Sarah for your thoughtful answer. Yes, boxes are good for packing and storing…even then they can burst.😊 .
    They are not good replacement for a person’s life – unless it was very uneventful. Even so?
    Fly free
    miriam

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  25. On my trip home, I only took a backpack with 4 changes of clothes (shorts) and my iPod. So now the temporal and inner realm is learning from years of misunderstanding. I was so liberated not worrying about stuff…jc

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