The Box – by Stuart Pickford

(For Geoff and Sarah)


The cardboard box is so light
she thinks there’s nothing in it.

Unfolding the flaps—leaves
laid out as rows of hearts,

old leaves from lime trees
on sheets of tissue paper.

She checks her dad’s writing,
his fluent tops and tails.

She’d mentioned in passing
about the calendar project.

Her children loved rubbings,
a shape opening another.

He must’ve stopped messing
with the old Massey Ferguson.

Walking the copse, he’d picked
each one, weightless in his palm,

the flesh of green gone,
leaving the hearts skeletal.

She lifts out layer upon layer,
lays them around her. He knew

how to fill an empty space
without crushing the gift.



Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish (2016), was published by smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.



4 thoughts on “The Box – by Stuart Pickford

  1. Pingback: Winners! July/August Readers’ and Editor’s Choice Poems | Algebra Of Owls

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