Boxes, poetry by Vickie Johnstone at



written by: Vickie Johnstone



The man with the can with the water
says you need to stay put where you are,
you can’t spread out your roots any further.
Keep your unruly branches straight as a die,
open your leaves, but only so far – don’t overstep,
whatever you do, don’t overshadow the other plants.
Stay in your box, even if you can’t breathe.
The air you’ve been given should always suffice.

If you need inspiration, gaze straight up.
The sky’s the limit, but it’s way out of reach.
This yellow sun will ensure your leaves grow,
this blue dew will saturate in the pink-eyed dawn,
so try to catch as much as you can in your hands.
He’ll follow it up, the man with the can,
when he comes to your neighbourhood.
He might even splurge you some Baby Bio.

Stretch your woody limbs high when the sun shines,
furl your leaves and creep on down in a tumult of rain,
unless you love to dance inside those silver showers,
and then be my guest, so long as no one else sees,
or they might think you’re trying to attract attention,
and you need to stay in your box. Keep quiet.

In order to grow, you have to stay where you are.
We need to know where you are. You’re on our list of
faceless millions. No name. Just a number. That’s all we need.
So don’t shine. Come rain or fine we’ll know you’re here,
quietly swaying in your bright red box, leaves pruned,
stretching your limbs towards a sun you can’t reach.

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