opening the box

today’s myths, tomorrow’s poems

Instructions for living a life:
pay attention
be astonished
tell about it. – Mary Oliver

This week we read multiple versions of the story of Pandora’s box. We discussed the evils of the world, where the stem from, how a single figure can be responsible, and why women are blamed for releasing the world’s evils in multiple global myths. Immediately, the writers expressed both in discussion and in their writing that that is a simplistic view of the story. We discussed and wrote about the complex contradiction that a world without evil is a world that can’t see good.

It takes life experience to discern these kinds of subtleties. Each writer in our circle is a citizen of a big world, familiar with the faces of each thing that Pandora’s box released. We acknowledged, as imperfect humans, that these things are not only present in the world but in us, in our lives. We know sickness, fear, loss. But through the lens of our experience and as recorded in our poetry, we know that only through these released demons can we know health, contentment, happiness. And the ability to manage and balance these opposing forces makes us who were are as humans and individuals. It often dictates the stories of our lives.

Below, you will read the found poem created by our shared and most loved words from the evening. We create the found poem of out of the lines that most resonated with our circle. We read them aloud to one another and create a poem. This poem reflects the struggle presented by the story of Pandora, the blame laid at her door, but, ultimately, the blessing she offered humanity through struggle and redemption.


There is no good without the bad.
I would try to love even hate,
each day find something to hope for.
Hope: the only shelter I have ever known.
It lends me new breath.
What will I become?

There are different dimensions
to the steady beat of my heart.
I wonder what’s at the bottom
of their hearts. A room blinked dark?
A road I never want to see again?

I imagine so I can keep hope alive.
How I deal: I try to help those
who aren’t well, through vulnerability,

to break free of all camouflage.
Will I ever be? Tendrils branch out
and latch me on to my resolve.

It’s all here now – a very emotional time.
I was waiting at the gate. I blacked out.
I ache all over. I wonder why sometimes.
I scare myself because things are either
very good or very bad.

But here’s what we are – elements of good
at the core of all things. I will find that good,
steady beat of my heart like a fish
through dark water. I need to live,
even in the mess when everything else flies away.
I’ve done wrong but what would life be?
No good without bad. I have chains of steel
and light in my eyes.
There’s your answer.

. . . and you?

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