“She had in her seventh year, she recalled wistfully, dreamed of a wishing-box land above the clouds where wishing boxes grew on trees, looking very much like coffee grinders; you picked a box, turned the handle around nine times while whispering your wish in this little hole in the side, and the wish came true” – Sylvia Plath, “The Wishing Box” Sylvia Plath, (2000), Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Harper Perennial, pp. 215-220..
The jar She laughed out loud as she wrote and sometimes cried. She was obsessed with small cars and delighted in driving them fast around corners. She drew clever cartoons to satirise the mayhem of her life. … Continue reading
Theogony.Hesiod, and Barry Powell, (2017), The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield
of Herakles, University of California Press. The only things they were good for, he had declared, was feeding, breeding and causing no end of problems for men. Perhaps if Hesiod had kept his horrid thoughts to himself, Pandora thought, women would not continue to be boxed.
All the same
It had been sitting at the bottom of her jewelry box gathering dust for some time now. The plain white gold band was slim and featured a four-millimeter round diamond in a basket setting. The white gold was not perfectly pure, and the gemstone was plainly less than 0.5 carats. It was bought and given for less than $750 dollars. She was plain and she liked plain things, the ring seemed perfect. The wedding band was also white gold but not quite so plain. It was custom made to perfectly match her engagement ring; the six small princess cut diamonds in alignment with the width of the basket setting. It too, seemed perfectly plain.
She prefers not
Their managed hearts
No-one quite knew what happened that day in 2019, only that when asked to put on a friendly face at work, 25, 632 women at the university refused to smile. “A girl can only take so much after all” they said as they untied the string from around the boxes that contained their managed hearts and released them high into the air. The sky began to blush with pride as women stopped anticipating the needs of others, ceased to pay attention to the comfort levels of others, and put an end to doing tedious things for the sake of making people happy. Before long, all the emotion women had kept locked inside the boxes crowded the sky and the atmosphere turned blood red. The world smelled of something beginning as 25, 632 boxes went up in flames.
She pushed the 900mm x 550mm x 380mm khaki box into the corner of the storage cage. She wiped a trickle of sweat from her brow; she was not as strong as she used to be, and it was dark and clammy in the basement car park. She opened the latch to take one final look at the objects she had carefully buried inside. A tattered birth certificate which he might need one day when he gets out. Her eyes quickly skimmed over the mugshot on the outdated passport and expired driver’s license. Leather wallet, favourite books, a university tie, and his wedding ring fill up some of the space. A large yellow envelope holds the smile of a mother with her young son, a photo from the 1970s in Darwin full of hope. A handmade Father’s Day card from one of his own. She roughly shoved it to the bottom of the trunk, slammed the lid closed and dusted her hands. Any kind of problem could be solved by putting it in a box and putting the box away.
|↑1||Sylvia Plath, (2000), Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Harper Perennial, pp. 215-220.|
|↑2||She laughed out loud as she wrote and sometimes cried. She was obsessed with small cars and delighted in driving them fast around corners. She drew clever cartoons to satirise the mayhem of her life. She refused to tidy up. She yo-yo dieted her whole life and tried not to care what her mother said. She carried the weight of her husband’s infidelity as best she knew how and died young. She was a down to earth, creative and loving mother to her savage little children. She wrote of horror and humour in equal measure. She saw houses and imagined they were alive. She advised to use seasoning sparingly. She thought no more than five recurring motifs would do. She loved rooms filled with sunlight, books and cats. She believed in the shimmer just beyond our reach and relied on magical thinking. Shirley Jackson has had me under her spell for some time now. Reading her work has led me down to the very back of her garden timely reminder that no one, whether housewife, writer or both, fits into a single box. As odd as it may seem, Jackson’s words, her words about the ways she writes her words, and in particular these words of hers, have inspired this piece: “The very nicest thing about being a writer is that you can afford to indulge yourself endlessly with oddness, and nobody can really do anything about it, so long as you keep writing and kind of using it up, as it were. All you have to do—and watch this carefully, please—is keep writing. So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you” (Shirley Jackson in Ruth Franklin, 2016, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, W. W. Norton Company, p. 389.|
|↑3||Natalie Hayne, (2020),|
|↑4||Hesiod, and Barry Powell, (2017), The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield|
of Herakles, University of California Press.
|↑5||Malvina Reynolds, (1962), “Little Boxes”, released by Pete Seeger (1963). Reynolds later released her version on her 1967 Columbia Records album Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth.|