The Empty Shoebox


The Empty Shoebox 

there can be no honoring
of a strong family legacy
in an empty shoebox

everywhere around there are families –
bloodlines, genes, those who harbor their own
who love in spite of shortcomings as she did

but there will be no spirit of all she stood for lighting the way
there will be no candle glowing in the dark;
the acolytes have extinguished the flame

there will be no glimmer at her grave
no fulfillment of the obligation
to never leave the gospel side candle burning alone
as the ordering of candles goes from left to right
in the passage of predecessors

there will be no living tribute to all that she loved
no keeping memories burning bright for future generations
no sharing remembrance across the tree canopy 

so over her body, the grass grows thick
blooming vines climbing the chain-link fence boxing her in
the fragrances of pleasantry she cultivated
in those she loved
now forevermore kept to one small pasture shoebox
of the wide, wide world where she once lived
her spirit never meant to dwindle here where
her shoes will never be filled
just the shell of an empty shoebox
collecting tears from heaven

not one can wear her burial shirt with truth,
    stained now with hypocrisy for those who would try
not one can fill a shoebox of hope without contradiction
not one can volunteer hands of love packing boxes that matter
     when her legacy doesn’t

there’s no room for untangling the Christmas tree lights
there’s no place for pretending the joy lives on

how can we carry her light forth into the world
when her hopes, dreams,
examples for generations to come
have died, roots of a family tree now fallen?

no one can hate family and honor a parent’s legacy
at the same time
any more than they can love God
and hate His son 

and so we walk away from all that mattered to her
           an empty shoebox
               a box of marquis letters now scattered
                   without message to passersby
                      who still look for divine truths her hands once
                            spelled out on a church sign

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