Preparing the Balikbayan Box

This entry is part 47 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


It’s almost spring, and I am putting
a large box of things together to send
away across the ocean in a container ship
with many other boxes just like this one.

We call these balikbayan boxes— and we
fill them to the brim (they’re packed and taped,
not weighed, by volume) with every imaginable
first world desire: chocolate, clothes and shoes

bought at various sales throughout the holidays,
books for nieces and nephews; coffee, processed
ham, brined and pressed into teardrop-shaped tins;
liter bottles of shampoo, purse-size samples

of scents and lotions and oils; candy, pain-
killers, cans of tuna and corned beef and Spam.
Strips of masking tape and markers help
to designate which items will go to which

relatives and friends back home. I know
that what I really want to send can’t fit
inside this cardboard box— And so from time
to time I’ll stop to lean against the kitchen door,

survey the goods strewn across the table:
despite the labels, unsure of their destination
as I am uncertain of what real purchase
I have over the things in this world.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Diorama, with Mountain City and FogThe Jewel in the Fruit →

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