by Elliott Bell
I have an empty breath-mint tin
That I put my secrets in.
A silver blade, a clandestine letter
My thinnest lie and a blue bird feather.
The button from a promise broken –
All shameful sentimental tokens.
The painful things that I can’t forget,
Ill-gotten gains and an old cigarette.
No one suspects that this old tin
Contains all my finest sins.
When they see me messin’ with it,
They assume I just need a mint.
For years now I’ve been unsteady
But this old tin is getting heavy,
I can’t carry it another moment
Can I empty it with atonement?
To my sister I gave the feather,
Over a bridge I threw the letter.
Under the sink went the silver blade,
I sewed the button on a sweater frayed.
I repaid my gains with a blank check,
And hung my lies around my neck
(Though no one’s seemed to notice yet)
I finally lit that old cigarette.
Now the bottom shines again
In my empty breath-mint tin.