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.