The Chocolate Box

The Chocolate Box

I opened the heavy door, bell ringing, to Darryl Lea’s
Chocolate Box
with my young son following in my footsteps,
just as I followed in my mum’s footsteps
at the age of five,

a store he’s never seen before
on his first spree into the CBD of Brisbane,
giant buildings among drawcards when you live
in a coastal village
with a 2 storey limit,

the condensed aroma
of chocolate and liquorice
and all sorts
of other delights
envelops me
like my children’s hugs when hurt,

the angora blanket wraps me warm
and transports me to that day
when Mum surprised me
ok, we can go in just this once
heart beating, I am Charlie
in the chocolate factory

swirling lollipops too big for my eyes
toffees, caramel brittle
chewy nougat, rocky road
ribbons of twisted liquorice
little pillows of boiled sweets
with even sweeter colours
shimmering in little glass jars
with blue lids,

a carousel of sights and smells
making my senses spin
you can pick one thing
the edge of her mouth smiled
as my little hand
grabbed a tooth shaped
plastic container filled with
some sweets, I now forget,
but I’ll never forget that giant tooth.

22 thoughts on “The Chocolate Box

  1. “envelops me
    like my children’s hugs when hurt,
    the angora blanket wraps me warm…”
    Love it, but who’s kidding who, GB?
    So be honest and admit Micheal took YOU to the Chocolate Box! BTW, my favourite is Rocky Road. (in case you ever feel compelled to buy me a present)

    • Haha – and you can put me down for some Bo Peep boiled sweets (they don’t sell the giant tooth anymore – boo,boo!). I also love Rocky Road. Michael was so funny – he said ‘Mum, you can buy whatever you want’ like he was in charge.

    • Yes, screamish – the smell is divine. The Chocolate Box I went to when I was little was at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, just opposite Woolworths where we’d get the groceries all the time – no wonder she said ‘just once’.

  2. I’ll never forget the Christmas puddings with the marshmallow inside. Do they still make them? I thought they were wondrous things. You captured the magic of the store so precisely I was transported and was a child again. Drooling…

    • I’m not sure Selma – you’ll have to adventure into one of the shops to find out (though they do have a website – and are on wikipedia, believe it or not) – if anyone can track down one of those giant molars, I’ll be very happy. I’ve made myself hungry – haha.

  3. This is wonderful Gabrielle – I have so many fond memories of visits to Darryl Lea’s as a child.

    I recently re-visited the Brisbane store and was so disappointed to see those little glass jars of boiled sweets are now made from plastic … though I bet the sweets still taste the same! 🙂

    • Everything is plastic these days Tracey, unfortunately, but they do taste the same (I bought some that day with Michael -hee,hee). Apparently the liquoric from Darryly Lea’s is so good that they are exporting overseas – thought there was something extra special about it!

  4. Just one thing? However in the world did you choose? This reminds me of the little General store in South Pass, except it holds a musty smell, a building in a town set up as a museum with historical relics on display, no velvet ropes, and no signs that say do not touch. Behind the counter, lining the shelves are tall glass jars with silver lids, containing old fashioned candy sticks in numerous flavors, jaw breakers as big as your fist, and a choice between red and black licorice. Outside the wind blows the dust from the street around the boardwalk, and whistles through the gaps in the door frame. I love the sights and smells you describe here, and even though my place is so completely different, your nostalgia takes me back to it.

    • I chose the tooth because I’ve always had a thing about teeth (might write another poem about that – haha). That General Store sounds wonderful Storm Dweller – I can imagine it and hear that wind whistling – I do like red licorice 🙂

  5. oh what a wonderful journey to a different time and place. it made my eyes well up with tears, as i remembered my own childhood jaunts to the penny candy store, where ten cents got ten pieces of candy, and the scent of the place, wow!
    beautiful poem gabrielle!

    • Thanks tipota – yes, I remember when lollies (that’s what we call candy in Australis) were 1 cent or 1/2 cent. I would ask for 5 cents worth of lollies at the corner store and get a white bag with about 10 lollies in it (value!).

  6. What a beautiful and accurate poetic snapshot of a special day in childhood, replete with candy and mum’s love. There is nothing better and I now have a new favourite poem for the month of October. *sigh* 🙂

    • That’s a beautiful way of looking at it Aletha – I’m just fascinated by memory and how particular things stick in our minds (not that it’s a big mystery why this day stuck in my mind – haha).

  7. chocolate and poetry together at last… have you read the bio of shelton lea (great melbourne poet)? it tells the story of his place in the lea family (of the darrel lea chocolate fame). it is a must read… will change your view of darrel lea chocolate forever. the book is called delinquent angel.

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