The Yellow Walls


A shabby chic bedspread of cabbage roses—
part of her “hopeful chest” before it became
part of her “hopeless case”—
lays over her bed like a garden planted in neat rows,
the paisley sheets forming a strange sort of soil—
the ashen color of cremation.
A headboard and footboard frames
this nocturnal resting place
with its pewter-hued, iron curlicues—
prison bars so prettily coiled.

A white shag rests in peace on the HER side of the floor,
a Victorian-era lamp on the white nightstand
provides the pink light by which she can only read
when she is alone,
for all light and sound disturb him.
She is not lonely when she has a book;
rather, she is alone while her husband sleeps,
and she lies in the darkness—
the shadows, the souls of his dreams,
the echoes of his snores,
their screams.

A fancy side chair has become “The Laundry Chair”—
the hallmark of a careless and forgetful housewife—
the type who leaves her nylon stockings
in the door of the car
or her brassiere hanging on the coat rack
for guests to pretend to ignore.

There are no robes
but flip-flops for slippers,
and a mouth guard with dried spit—
an opaque curiosity for the little child who often wanders in.

The change jar on the highboy is always empty—
pessimistic, transparent.
Jewelry trees,
like headless mannequins with wires for limbs,
look like something out of a Tim Burton movie,
holding up cameos like dismembered heads.
Stacks of unfinished scrapbooks sit on this highboy
like guest logs for visitors of a wake.

Twin stacks of library books are on the nightstand—
three by the same author—
under the lamp,
waiting to be read.

Pictures of who she and her husband used to be scatter the surfaces—
a reminder that they were young and thin once.
They ask themselves,
“Whatever happened to those people?”

A suitcase,
bought for the day when they would one day vacation
in Iceland, Australia, or New Zealand—
is often haphazardly filled after her husband’s vanishing acts,
when he would gamble their future on kings and queens.
The case,
in mint condition,
stands in the closet
that is always open—
just like his drawers.

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