Hunting for Treasure

Excavations
by Aoife Mannix
inspired by ‘Snuff box’, about 1760-1770, Shell and silver, probably German

The end of our garden was a graveyard
for broken pottery, emerald glass,
coins with faded faces that bounced
from broken springs, a bed frame
that served as a ladder up
into a crumbling muse.

I balanced on the wooden beams,
peering down through the gaps in the roof,
risking life and limb to reach the remains
of an ancient Christmas tree, a treasure chest
I was sure must contain at least
a few trinkets of solid gold,
some overlooked diamonds.

My younger brother egging me on
as the afternoon sunlight
set the dust dancing wildly.
I coughed and nearly fell,
steeling my nerve to ignore
the creak of rotten wood.

But when I finally threw back the lid,
the chest was completely empty,
except perhaps for the ghost
of my mother’s voice
calling us in for tea
and the memory
of all that we found
in those forbidden places.

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