The America Chest

by Michael Tveter

As it creaked open, dust trickled
down from a wooden lid
crowded with scratches –
my grandfather’s sailor calendar.

He called it his “America Chest,”
and it was once bursting with emptied
metal cans and used movie tickets:
diary entries of a life he couldn’t afford.

Since he returned to Norway, it was cleared
of all but memories of his time in New York, that
carnival in Rio, and how he and his friend overslept
on their ship in Sydney where they planned to settle down;

the trunk was never meant to remain closed
in the attic of a small farm on the land
he and his brothers left to escape
their father’s drunken fists.