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