Pandora’s Box (revisited)

Not sure I went to bed

same woman I woke up

An act of boldness


Put your big girl pants on

led to opening

Pandora’s box

old battered Whitman sampler tin

holding flotsam and jetsam

of absent father’s life


Thought I was prepared

for the truths it held

handwritten letters

ghosts calling from the past

clues to a puzzle

Was his madness

my madness?

Does my poet soul

vibrate with his?

Three generation inheritance



poetic passion

trying to glean

understanding of nature vs nurture


Humble tin

held no answers

Pandora’s box

revealed a man-child

Scrawl eerily similar

to mine


I discover that the few truths

thought I had been entrusted with

about my parents

about our family

were fantasy


refuted by an unexpected voice from their past


Were these lies


told to protect me

his memory


No objective truth

to be sought

No case to put

a detective on

Only players able

to provide insight



I am left alone

in wee hours

to sort through wreckage

Left to reconcile

who I thought they were

who I thought we were

with the stunning contents

of Pandora’s box


© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved



  1. It is always a journey to read the words of those who came before us, and not always a journey we are prepared for… I have made this same exploration of my father’s writing. He was a coyote, wild and only loosely collected. I aim to find myself knowing I am very much the same.


  2. Going through parental leavings when both (ten years apart) had gone from Earth, or back to it, none of the few mysteries were solved, but there were the letters he wrote home from the Army overseas. There, in among the reassurances of being OK, there were the romantic endearments that spoke of feelings I so seldom saw in evidence when they lived, two people so uncomfortable with public affections. She had saved all those letters. Apparently, he had not saved the answers, a hard thing to do in barracks life, perhaps.


    1. My grandfather died when I was 3 and my family always describes him as being a bit of a bastard to my grandmother but when she died I discovered a black and white picture of him when he was in his 20s tucked in her wallet. It made me realize how complex this all is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, complexity and mystery hide in the family archives, some never to be solved. One of mine is a great aunt, my maternal grandmother’s younger sister. She had a long career in some sort of office work in Chicago, where, as best I can tell she lived with my grandparents. She didn’t marry until after she retired and I think he may have died within a few years, but they did travel to Europe together before they were married (Grandmother was scandalized). And, after retirement she wintered in Florida and Summered in Chicago, driving solo back and forth into her 80s. But I wonder about all those years she stayed single. Did she have lovers? If so, were they men or women? Was something going on between her and my grandfather? And so on. but anyone who could tell me is long gone. She was one of my favorite relatives.


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