Stanzas:  Rachel Armstrong

“I am a box labelled with a smile.”

Originally from Mayo, Rachel has been living in Limerick for five years. She is a music teacher and likes to make nerdy t-shirts with a friend.

What instruments do you play?

It would be easier to say what instruments I don’t play! I play piano mostly, I’m a singer. I play trad music so I play flute, tin whistle, bodhrán and a little bit of fiddle and a little bit of harp. If it’s an instrument you can bet I will try to play it. I love the guitar but I haven’t mastered it. I’ve fallen in love with the ukulele. It’s very cute sounding.

What poem is your quote from?

I Am A Box is the name of the poem. Nice and simple.

What was your inspiration for this poem?

The theme of the Stanzas meet at the time was identity. I found it kind of interesting because I’m an introvert masquerading as an extrovert. In realised I have a lot more acquaintances than friends, so the poem is based on what would actually happen if people took the time to get to know the introvert me rather than the extrovert.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever written?

The dietary information for a restaurant; I have serious allergies.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Lollipop with a scorpion in it. I’m going to point out I didn’t eat the scorpion but I was incredibly aware of the scorpion the entire time. I kept thinking “Please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up.”

What would be your favourite things about Limerick?

There’s stuff to do. There’s more than one shop. Limerick is a weird city in that it is definitely a city but it manages to retain the feel of a town, just like a really big one. I like that there’s always stuff to do, there’s always live music on. There’s always someone going around asking you to get involved with different things. I like there are lots of places where you can sit down and have a chat; I’m a very chatty person. I find Micky Martins’ fantastic for that.

Regarding your poem, if you are the box, are you from Amazon?


Why are you labelled with a smile, are you not happy?

Labelling with a smile is easier than being happy all the time.

Is there a cat in you?

No, I’m not Schrodinger’s box.

Well that answers my next question, moving on, what is in the box?


Does the smile matter?


What are your hopes, fears, plans for the future?

Getting a real person job. Learning how to drive.

Hope or fear?

Both. I reversed the car the other day without taking out anyone or parts of the house, which is impressive. I’ve never crashed a car. I’ve been in the process of learning how to drive on and off for the past 4 years. I’m a really nervous driver. Cars feel very powerful.

Also my little boy knowing what girls are, or boys. So long as he doesn’t notice them until he’s like 20. I’m going to put him in a box, yes that’s what the box is for!


I Am a Box

Shiny, with colour and sparkle and splendour all over
Pretty and easy on the eye with a dramatic flair
All that shimmering, shining, cover
Covering a tear here, a scuffed edge there,
Even a ragged edged hole or two
But all covered.

I am a box
Four sides, a floor, a lid
All things that a box should be, I conform to.
A lid
Held on tight with a bow,
For fear of what might come out.
For I know better than to open up.

I am a box
Labelled with a Smile
May contain nuts printed largely, boldly, ironically
Up to the brim with pretty dresses and half dreamed fancies
Fond remembered nights, half eaten chocolate bars
Damp with long cried tears and spilled dreams
Dashed hopes and sunken endeavours...
All with a sprinkle of glitter

I am a box
I am a box
Waiting to be opened
Can you bear to lift that lid
To gaze inside at ALL that I contain
Not just idly mind my exterior

I am a box
An outward shell
Hiding a person

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