Chinese Box

Chinese Box

A Poem by David Lewis Paget
"

You never know what you're going to find...

"

For years, the 'Muse of the Heavenly Gates'

Had stood in the shade of a country lane,
Quietly tending its residents there,
The old, the feeble, the stark insane.
The blurb said, here was a heaven on earth
For the old to pass their declining years,
It said they lived in a quiet content,
The truth was actually quite the reverse.
 
For Matron Margaret Parker-Lang was
A nun, expelled from the Carmelites,
'Too much of the world', they said of her,
When caught indulging in base delights.
The years had hardened, had turned her hair
An iron grey, and her eyes were cold,
She only smiled when the visitors came
To pay the fees for their aged, in gold.
 
She didn't encourage their visits, though:
'It's hard, you see, and they get upset,
Best to remember them how they were,
Their memories fade, then they forget.'
Few would revisit the Heavenly Gates,
They left them safe in the nurse's care,
Who drugged the residents every night
So none could complain of their treatment there.
 
They gathered them all in a stupor, sat
In rows, in front of a giant screen,
Then played them movies in black and white
'Til half the residents there could scream.
The food was bland and inedible,
So soon they wasted to skin and bone,
And those who thought to protest would find
They'd confiscated their telephone.
 
The visiting Locum, Doctor Zourk,
Had quite a collection of things antique,
Whenever he'd visit a prospect's home,
They'd be committed, within the week.
Then he and the Matron would take their pick
Of anything there that took the eye,
If anyone later complained, they'd say:
'He'd put it out for the rubbish guy!'
 
But once in 'The Muse of the Heavenly Gates'
The trap would spring, the shades come down,
They'd flourish the papers and help him sign
His house and his title deeds to them.
Again, when his mind was wandering
The Matron would sit, and hold his hand:
'Organ donation, that's the thing,
If you could help, that would be grand!'
 
I was away in China, when
My father went to the Heavenly Gates,
A note from the Matron said, 'He's fine!
Our lawyers will help him to sort his estate.'
I must have been deaf to the warning bells,
My mind was focused, I let it be,
I never once thought of the Chinese Box
That I'd taken home on a previous leave.
 
I'd happened on it in a Curio Shop
In the winding back streets of Xi'an,
I'd never quite managed to puzzle it out
And finally left the old box at home.
I knew it was ancient, marked and scored,
With a funny old Chinese symbol too,
The Chinese owner had bowed and smiled
When I asked what the box could really do.
 
It came as a shock when my father died,
We'd not been together for quite a spell,
By the time that I got back home again,
They'd taken his organs, eyes as well.
Unknown to me, he had signed a form
That I knew he'd not in the world have done,
To give them the right to his organs, once
He had passed away, and his race was run.
 
I was angry then, but I went on home
And braced myself for another shock,
Things were missing, a Chinese screen
And my beautiful, ancient Chinese Box.
My back was up, my suspicions rife
I sought out the Matron then, to talk,
But found her dead on the slab back there,
Dismembered by locum, Doctor Zourk.
 
He'd taken some of her organs out,
They sat in the open fridge nearby,
But then she coughed, and she sat up straight,
Let out a horrible, piercing cry.
The doctor staggered and ran from the room
Like a sprinter, racing right out of the blocks,
'Watch for that old antique,' she hissed,
'The dragon that came in the Chinese Box!'
 
She was breathing for barely a minute more
As she fell back onto the blood-soaked deck,
But what she managed to whisper there
Made the hairs rise up on the back of my neck,
She'd solved the puzzle and opened the box
When the drawer slid out with a sudden bang,
For what had jumped out and bitten her then
Was the Dragon of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
 
The dragon's venom had paralyzed her,
So Zourk had thought she was good and dead,
He'd wanted the Box for himself, you see,
But she had raided our house, instead.
He thought he could sell her organs then,
And pick up the box as a plus, as well,
Collectors become more fanatical when
On that short sharp road to a personal hell!
 
The Box sits there by the mantelpiece
Wherever I travel, or think to roam,
I've travelled on back to China, so
The Dragon will feel that it's safe at home.
I heard that the Doctor is doing time
For the gruesome murder of Matron Lang,
Thank God - I haven't been introduced
To the Dragon of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
 
David Lewis Paget

© 2012 David Lewis Paget


Author's Note

David Lewis Paget
For the uninitiated, Emperor Qin Shi Huang (pron. Chin Sher Hwang) - was the first Emperor of a United China, circa 259-210 B.C. He was responsible for the Terra Cotta Warriors, and for a large part of the construction of the Great Wall of China.

My Review

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Featured Review

I had fun reading your work. The imagery is really good and the twist, unexpected. At first, I thought you were telling all about the nursing home but at the end, it is the Chinese Box and the dragon in it who won the spotlight. I can see greed in your poetic story. Sad that people in real life are like the two characters: the doctor and the matron.

Nice write! :)

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

There can never be too much praise for your writing. I am always engaged, enthralled, and taken on the most fantasic journey imaginable. When the story is woven so intrinsically and seems to end too soon, I know that I am witness to magic.

I think you're simply brilliant!

Linda Marie Van Tassell

Posted 12 Years Ago


What a most worthy subject for your pen. These monsters murdered my grandfather..WITHIN A WEEK of being admitted. Yes...the Paget pen has dealt vengeance eloquently. I loved your structure. I had to back up a few times so I could get a feel for the stanzas. Interesting ryhme and a very well detailed image of these places of "numbnes". Sorry it has taken me so long to get to it...I'm late these days on all my requests. Thank you for sharing David...
Todd

Posted 12 Years Ago


Interesting write. Gruesome yet I wouldn't mind purchasing one of those lungs if there are any laying around. as always a captivating story. Well written.

Posted 12 Years Ago


I always wondered what those chinese puzzle boxes contained, NOW I know ............. I love the way you draw the reader in and right when they think they know where you're going with the story comes the twist.
You are a fantastic writer David. Everytime I read one of your stories I have a picture of a storyteller with a group of people surrounding him as he spins his yarns. You would have been a treasure then as you are now.
Fantastic story, David.

Posted 12 Years Ago


Slipped this one right on past me..I thought you might be stating something from your own experiences with your own family in a nursing and were elaborating as you do so well..Another great one David..you need to get this stuff published and be living high on the hog with your royalties..great words..God bless..Valentine

Posted 12 Years Ago


I had fun reading your work. The imagery is really good and the twist, unexpected. At first, I thought you were telling all about the nursing home but at the end, it is the Chinese Box and the dragon in it who won the spotlight. I can see greed in your poetic story. Sad that people in real life are like the two characters: the doctor and the matron.

Nice write! :)

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Interesting subject matter but the rhythm of the poem interferes with fluidity. Would work better in iambic pentameter par example:
It came as a shock when my father died,
We'd not been together for quite a spell,
By the time that I got back home again,
They'd taken his organs, eyes as well.
Unknown to me, he had signed a form
That I knew he'd not in the world have done,
To give them the right to his organs, once
He had passed away, and his race was run.

there is a couplet rhyme with spell and well but it's all rather erratic being unrepeated within the rest of this stanza. structure is loose and needs much "tightening." interesting, as I said but the structure makes for a difficult read.

Posted 12 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I don't think I have ever come across someone with quite the imagination as you. And that, my friend, is a compliment.

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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501 Views
8 Reviews
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Added on October 25, 2008
Last Updated on June 27, 2012
Tags: Curio, symbol, organs, dragon

Author

David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget

Moonta, South Australia, Australia



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