Boxes Built on Boxes

by Mianyi Wang, UWCM
February 17th, 2023
Illustration by Adele Ho

boxes built on boxes

boxes of the same cardboard base i built when i was six

six eyes on me as i tremble and stand up

up is the only direction i know


know i did not always fear

fear fourth places and disappearing smiles

smiles of “that kid is going places”

places i was destined to go when i grew up 

up is the only solution i’ve known


known curses unknown antidotes

antidotes to my success

success comes at a high cost

cost me nothing though

though my box tips over precariously i will only look up

up is the only place i can afford to go now


now there’s no way back down

down to the box below the ten other boxes

boxes overflowing with trophies yet completely empty

empty dull cardboard

cardboard cut-outs carefully crafted

crafted an illusion that i am always ready to step up

up where even i cannot reach


reach for them and the pile crumples over

over my tipping tower

tower over me, i dare you

you will never match up to my expectations

expectations i have always strained to reach

reached for them my whole life

life built on boxes over boxes on square one

one more box and i’ll be up.