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Little cardboard boxes, we with our clammy two cents

for a half pint of whole milk in read and white cartons

barely able to read, it was a big deal to collect the milk money

almost as important as being asked to clap the chalkboard erasers

clean, any excuse to get out of the school building,

fire drills also high on the list.


Maybe it was handed down from Depression era parents,

this attention to detail, this need to escape,

this introduction to altruism.


I don't know how the public schools got us to fold

the little orange cardboard boxes,

much less tie it in with Halloween

but we were still so young and full of wonder, impressionable.


Wearing a ballerina tutu or anything with a cape or mask,

our friends' parents would smile and gladly give nickels,

and dimes and quarters to fill the UNICEF boxes,

the money going to help children somewhere else

who didn't have as much as we did,

which wasn't very much, only we didn't know it back then.


We, with our homemade or cheap ill-fitting store bought costumes

were never warm enough but at the end of the night

we traded this candy for that candy,

feeling like all was right with the world,

especially if there was candy corn.


(for e)

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