The Glass Box – a poem

Man boxed in glass,
Looks out, and daily renews fragile panes,
To protect himself from outer beings.
Oft-times he takes a shard of life
Within his glassy void.
But casual contacts, made and broken,
Superficial people wafting by
All evaporate beside his vacuum.
For, his barrier, a thousand people
Met and daily touched,
Are transient subjects of study,
For him to see, map, and criticize
From behind impenetrable glass.
So all pass on and leave,
A hermit crab, his shell

When we try with upturned eye,
To return the piercing stare,
To contact that person beyond,
We find a mirror.
In it, an image of our desire,
Reflected back, attractive.
Temporarily happy, we step closer,
Deceived by one-way glass,
We sail in a wave of joy.
But behind, he smiles
Knowing us from our emotions easily seen,
Worn for him to turn and use,
Destroyed to protect the lethal panes
Keeping him alone, protected,
And we, outside, denuded.

But, maybe, if you’re lucky,
You may step so close,
That by a glint of light,
You catch a fleeting glimpse
Through protective films.
Then, use your knowledge,
Protect yourself,
For, nothing breaks the panes,
Not even steel can get within.
All evaporate, love petrified,
Bereft of tenderness,
Turns, to reinforce the box,
As he, alone, within,
Sits and studies people,
By reflections, easily cast,
Upon his box.

© Copyright, October, 2013, Jane Stansfeld

9 thoughts on “The Glass Box – a poem

  1. One of your best Jane, Surely there is a bit of this person in all of us and we have to be careful not to judge too harshly lest we enter the box ourselves…

    • Nice to hear from you Wyon, and thank you for the compliment. Yes, I agree there is a hint of this person in all of us, although I hope not as destructive and remote as the person whom I attempt to describe.

  2. Dear Jane—-I have read this over and over, quite fascinated by it. I am also confused. All of the wonderful and frightening attributes of glass you have masterfully gathered here–as Eric has so richly expressed–but I am still confused. I am searching for the heart of the poem, it’s meaning. Maybe I shouldn’t t be looking for such? There’s man, superficial people, we looking up, he, and you and your knowledge. I get all these persons mixed up. Is this allegory? Parable? Socio-political statement? I will keep on reading it and maybe the light will dawn, if only through a glass darkly…..I obviously find it a fascination!

    • Hi Cynthia: Thank you for your investment in time and for your visit. The poem attempts to describe a person who is charming but unengaged. A bit like the central character in “The Wall”. I probably went a little overboard on the symbol of glass. It describes a real person whom I once knew. He was fun to be with until I realized that he sucked up my emotions and never gave anything, except superficial camaraderie, back. So the heart of the poem is that it is a warning statement starting with a description of him, then how you (or any other superficial person) might react and then an additional warning on what the general populace ought to do with the knowledge of his real person. I would want to pin the warning onto his lapel or scotch tape it onto the glass. Clear as mud, certainly not crystal? Cheerio, Jane.

      • It all becomes clear, now, as I read it with your patient and illuminating reply in mind. I have known this kind of person, also, and came to realize—onc past the hurt of losing a supposed friendship— that the “alone” you evoke so well is probably a real suffering for them. Thank you—for the gloss, and of course for the poem!

  3. You weaved poetry with glass fibres, Jane dear

    Soft and springy, yet prickly and itchy
    Shattering brittle but harder than steel
    Let’s in light, double-glazed against cold
    Translucent or transparent, the moods
    Reflective but secretive too

    Man made, you say so much about man

    I couldn’t agree more with Ian.

    Brilliant theme couched in wondrous word fibres. What a web, I find myself delightfully entangled in.

    Thank you Jane dear.

    • Hi Eric: As usual thank you for your visit; and you gave me another ditty! Yes, glass has many attributes – a wonderful material. Did you know that you can now buy tunable glass which can be electronically altered to darken as needed? This would not fit into the poem! Cheerio, Jane

  4. Oft-times he takes a shard of life
    We find a mirror.In it, an image of our desire,
    Bereft of tenderness,Turns, to reinforce the box,
    This is brilliant!! Wish I had your skills in poetry

    • Ian, Thank you for your visit. We seem to communicate daily as I follow, and enjoy, your Pryia posts and youpay a visit when I post. Thank you for your kindness, Cheerio, Jane

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