Concrete Words: An Abstraction on the Box

As usual, I had no idea how this prompt would turn out for me and it sent me in a direction I hadn’t expected. I’m excited to read your concrete words, to read about the tangible things in your life so I can better understand  the invisible things of your heart. Today’s prompt is The Box.


It’s what’s within the box that we admire, hardly ever the box itself. The voice box isn’t the point but rather the words made with the cords, the alto that underlines the melody.

Boxes of papers line my attic, all the notes from every literature course I took. I have read through, aiming to make a box for burning, but then it feels too soon. A cedar chest keeps my wedding dress and also sweaters and quilts made by gone hands.

There are boxes of journals, one of midcentury film and ledgers of farm keeping. We are memory keepers, not just of our own – historians, we, with temporarily gripped hands.

I tell the story of how the one who made the quilt may be the one that tore her dress to shreds as a bear followed, how it scratched at pieces as she ran and tore.  Let me show you the corner of the notes, Gerard Manley Hopkins and how I wrote contradictions to physics, how I worked creation out in poetic doodles.

A small box full of baby girl clothes and then the box of things I never expected, notes from a husband who still loves, they crowd my shelves. I line them up like limp-necked doves. When it’s time, it’ll burn.

If I lie in the box before then, my chin all wrong, see my fingers there without rings, put me there with paper, and know I know it doesn’t matter, but please daddy’s drawings and the ones from when Erin and I laughed so hard each trying to draw a walrus. Head to toe, line me with magic marker spidermen and Isaac’s science journal. Cover me over with words. The arms that rocked will be empty of self, but copy for my box still, your favorite line from Rich Mullins. Write it out word for word. Bless my children. Bless my bones. Pray it in stone else I raise above the fire and not see the sacrifice I got to make below, precious parts of me, incense.

When I’m in the hollow, be grateful on my behalf. Tell each other how we’ll all be changed.

photo credit here

As I consider a writer’s voice, I wonder how it is for you. If we all have one, I wonder about other things, other things that most of us have. Like what box comes to mind, for example? Voice is cadence and music and space, how you write out the matter in your life and the meaning it gives, so tell us about the box. It’s certainly different than mine. So how is it for you?  —  On Mondays I write out spirit by practicing a little with the concrete things in my life and maybe in a fictional life. If you want to join this small community with these prompts, send your readers this way, and link up below at any point this week. Practice writing, the craft; share it with us. Next week’s topic is the Path. Make sure to use #concretewords on twitter. Thank you always for coming here and walking with me.

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  1. Oh boy. This one caught me unawares and before it knew it I was crying. Still don’t even know why. That’s your magic, girl. I need to know how you do it…

    • Well, Tanya, thank you. When I write, I cry, and that doesn’t make me very cool at the library.

      • Your reply made me laugh!

        I think it was the coffin bit – the words! Yes – me too! cover me with words. I am afraid to admit to myself how much I am loving this writing thing.
        Tanya Marlow recently posted..The box

        • I have a beautiful picture of our old mailbox, and I had planned to write about it! Alas, I went all happy morbid and wrote of my own coffin.

          I know the feeling of being afraid to love what I do. I SO KNOW THIS. It feels good to release that fear, friend. It’s new to me, but I’m doing it.

  2. Hi Amber
    First, thank you for your space we can share. Yes, we are memory keepers. We all have stacks of boxes in our hearts and minds filled with stories of everyone and all the stories that are precious in our lives. If only we could burn those from our memory that only carries pain. But, alas, that is not to be. Thankfully, with the sweet grace and a big help from time, it becomes more bearable.
    Much love
    Mia recently posted..Songs the World Sings

  3. Amber, yes I love the time capsule nature of this…the way it evolves organically to the final box. Yes cover me up. I have had this internal dialogue of late so I am happy to hear it outside of me,. For it to have a voice and be spoken by others. This passion, a compelling desire and need to write it all out. This one is stirring in me. Off to write about and outside the box. Love this community and how you set the tone so beautifully here.
    Elizabeth W. Marshall recently posted..Dream Casting

  4. I’m amazed we went in some similar directions. Love you, Amber-friend.

  5. haunting
    Brandee Shafer recently posted..On Seeing

  6. Amber, love finding old belongings and reminiscing on the past and their meanings!

  7. This is so powerful, Amber. Your writing shifts things inside me — the beauty and the pain, the tragedy and the hope. Deep and authentic and intelligent and like song. Thank you.

  8. Yes! “Put me there with paper” too. The boxes of things we keep tell a little of our story. I pray it’s a good one.

  9. well, you took me by surprise and it is beauty.

  10. I never ceased to be amazed at where a prompt might take me. I only wish I had a bit more time these days to actually respond to these. But I love reading everyone else’s! Most especially, yours.

  11. “Cover me over with words”. This made my heart leap.
    Danelle recently posted..Yellow Box Years

  12. Dang. That is beautiful! I am tripping all over this prompt…I didn’t get enough from box and now I’m tripping all over 4 mixed metaphors so I think I will let it go. Thanks for the fun though!!!!

  13. oh, this prompt. took me into my heart. took me back between the birch and sky. let go a grief no matter how long gone, lingers still.


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