Saturday, March 13, 2021

#SOL21 | 13 | Inside the Box

March 13 - 17 is Open Write over at Ethical ELA and so today's slice was inspired by the prompt there: "Weddings at Recess."  After reading the prompt and the example, I was immediately taken back to the summers I spent in the care of my grandma.  The grandkids -- usually me, my sister, and my cousin -- would take over an entire room off of the living room.  

It was appropriately called "The Play Room" because it was where we were allowed to play, spread out our toys, and do all the things kids love to do when given free reign of a place.  This was where all the toys were kept, as well as the children's books, dress-up materials, and whatever else our young hearts could desire.  Funny enough, it's not the toys I remember well, it was the cardboard boxes our grandma would bring home.  So this slice is about that.

It's raining, but you are not bored,

because grandma has returned from the grocery store --

snacks and meals and toilet paper put away --

she gifts you and your sister

A simple, cardboard box.

It's the one she used to bring those same groceries in,

empty and unassuming,

There is a lot of magic to be worked 

from a simple, cardboard box.

Drag it into the living room,

stuff it full of pillows and blankets:

a cozy and safe space to snuggle down.

Though you are too wound up to stay still

to not rock the boat.

So you make a game of tipping over in it

Rocking back and forth,

back and forth,

back and forth,

before tumbling backwards in a fit of giggles.

As long as Pawpaw isn't watching Price is Right

Everything is all right, but eventually you are banished.

Crawl out, flip it over, drag it back to the playroom

slide a few books inside, grab your paper and pencil 

and cross your legs: criss-cross applesauce.

It's summer break, but suddenly you are at school

Your teacher (your sister) opens a math book,

probably plucked off a table from a recent garage sale,

"Good morning class.  We're going to do the first ten problems on page 200."

And though the cardboard bends beneath you when you write, 

It's certainly a better desk and a better classroom than the real thing.

But it's summer break at grandma's house

Nobody wants to play school for long.

Dump the books out, spin it around,

drape a blanket over the top,

before carefully placing two plates

two saucers

two forks

two spoons

two tea cups 

and two girls with borrowed clothes for dress up 

sit patiently waiting for service from

Your server (your cousin) comes out with a tea pot

"Welcome to our restaurant.  What can I get for you today?"

And you open a picture book turned restaurant menu,

taking your time to imagine all the possibilities waiting for you.

The box changes with each hour

from simple cozy nests to school desks to grand banquet tables,

eventually settling into the form of a house or stable or garage

for your dolls, for your ponies, for your cars

for you to play out all the potential scenarios lying dormant

in your own imagination.

There is a lot of magic to be worked from a simple, cardboard box.

We carried our childhood in boxes and blankets and found objects

brought in by our grandma from the far corners of her neighborhood,

it was raining, but we were never bored.

This post is part of the 14th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.  
#SOL21 and information around Slicing can be found on Two Writing Teachers.


  1. I can just picture these scenes and you and your sister and cousin playing. What a fun memory!

  2. Erica, this part I could audibly hear:

    So you make a game of tipping over in it
    Rocking back and forth,
    back and forth,
    back and forth,
    before tumbling backwards in a fit of giggles.

    I hear those giggles and feel them! This is priceless, the morphing of this box into a new place of imagination with every hour. I like that you shared this as your daily slice and as your ethicalela inspiration as well!

  3. It is the simple everyday things that were so much fun. My kids loved boxes, pots and pans, and blankets. I loved the scene shifts in your poem. I could visualize all of the things you did with the boxes.

  4. Such beautiful memories, Erica. Your slice triggered a flood of memories of the annual week my sister and I would spend in Maine at my grandparents house. Thank you for this!