the old wood cask is still there, longer than it is deep, nearly
the size of a music box, with no hinged lid, but one that lifts
off like a sarcophagus top made of rough construction lumber
that’s begun to flake away in chips near uneven edge seams,

butting not quite flush, joined at
imperfect obtuse angles to one

another; it’s coarse-bristle painted with a wan of yellow milk
like banana meat, and sealed by a thin silt of years in Egyptian
style, stamped and inscribed—an unremembered curse been
scrawled in tottering wax—the shorthand for a moniker, gone

decades prostrated in a gully: when
the writing of names was a pagan

ritual aimed to stake permanence on the mundane; inside, a heart
constructed from Crayola nubs and torn sheathing paper, stacked
in rows and lain like lengths of peasants in a mass funeral tomb, who
sailed high into the afterlife—each with a title, from a time when it

was considered benign to call hues
and shades things like flesh tone.