This room, this calm.
my shutter eye clicks.
A room crowded with fringed lamps,
an antimacassared chair. A six-paneled door
grounded against thin vertical stripes.
Heavy oak dresser, a sepia-toned
lithograph of an actress. Delicate
white neck. Wicker chair
burdened with a mound of clothing.
African violets give birth
to a veritable jungle on the window ledge
as they drink polite sips of morning
light. The numbers turn slowly. Time
almost still. A rattan chest turned nightstand
holds a mason jar, filled with water, less
three small swallows. Damask and lace pillows.
Dust slanted blinds. Rows and rows
of books, most nursing cracked spines.
My breathing long as the mattress
is wide. The house settles and sighs.
The furnace’s white noise has worried
the mauve candle away to hard pink tears.
The swag of the valence forms an eye-
brow above a shaitan waterstain. We stare
at each other. Who will blink first?
I’m scared to shut my eyes. Blink
closed. Darkness transmogrifies into stone
ladies with pubic hair manicured
more neatly than the lawn. Blink open.
My hips are cradled like a motherless child
where the sagging double bed dips.
You must. I will
remember. I will remember.
I won’t forget. My breath.