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Put the Lid On

I was told of a guided fantasy
for coping with difficult people.
Imagine some boxes, with lids.
For each individual who is bothering you,
put that person's troubles in a box
and hand it back.

I imagine those designer boxes
bright cardboard with wallpaper patterns,
for sale at Winners.

Little boxes, made of ticky-tacky,
for this, that and the other one.

To M, I return her insatiable need for an audience.
To F, and N, where I once worked, I give back
all the leftovers from projects completed
and all requests for my mind and time.

For several people I have green-with-envy boxes
to contain their malice and jealousy.
For others, there are matchboxes
squirming with wormy insults that made me writhe.
To J, in an ancient, tattered diaper bag,
I have bundled up
those strange needs that manifest themselves
in shabby treatment of me.

For you, I have nothing at all.

You and closed containers
don't belong together.

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