Lesson for the New Year

    “Lesson for the New Year,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, inside front cover

    Lesson for the New Year

    Once I locked myself

    in a broken-down blue refrigerator we had stored in the cellar:

    clasp hinges rust-crusted,

    wobbly ineffectual handle, chrome on blue enamel.

    I crowded myself

    between tiny tin icebox and tiny crisper

    after taking out both tiny shelves

    and stacking them neatly against the fridge’s empty back,

    and I slammed the door shut on me

    by shoving it open hard

    so that it bounced back, sealed,

    when it hit its hinge-limit.

    Then it had nothing in it but me and dead air

    and I played by myself in the dark with its echoes

    till my backside started to ache

    and, trying to move,

    I realized there was no getting out.

    Then I quit singing and pretending to hide.

    When I shoved on the door in my panic

    one of the hinges broke;

    though the latch was still caught

    one corner of the door hung apart

    and I put my mouth to the hole

    and yelled for my mother till I was hoarse.

    So I didn’t suffocate after all.

    How foolish we are—

    we, playing in the dark—

    to think there are two second chances.