draft- Tia Levings, 2015
That room was a mess.
So full of broken furniture that I couldn’t see the floor, with
no pathway to walk.
Tchotchkies, curios, knick knacks, dust beams vaguely illumined by sun,
no hope of ever crossing the room, of cleaning the window
pane on the far side, no
muslin curtains filtering lemony summer light, no
jar of daisies to draw the eye away from dandered cobweb corners.
I may have forgotten to tell you-
there was no way to do that.
The remarkable thing was-
when I finally showed her, was that she only said,
“There’s a lot here. Tell me about this bench.”
The piece nearest her, nearest the door, and
it startled me.
I couldn’t tell if she teased…. or,
maybe this one preferred to wait like an oily cat, slice
with the precision of shame. Only-
“tell me the significance of this bench.”
She didn’t call it a pew.
To focus on just one thing settled a sigh, trust
breathing a cool morning mist over a fevered pond, and
I could see plain the first time
he crammed it into the room, or-
maybe the room crammed around it-
until cat feces piled in hidden places, and
spider tents draped the spindles, and
magazines curled with dark mildew, and
crates of bottles came marked, “Poison. Do not eat.”
But sometimes I did, and
sometimes I served them for dinner, and
saved the vomit in boxes for later.
This bench, now that I look at it-
smeared grime waxed into the grain,
lacerations sharp with slivers, ready
to pierce the soft flesh of my thigh, its
this bench is not useful to me anymore.
I don’t need it, and
that’s how we started. She
didn’t tease and didn’t shame and
never left my side.
She held my hand, we’ve
cleared the room. Dropped-
all of it over a cliff I think. Just-
let it fall off the truck,
behind me now.
It’s been 12 weeks, but
I can see the floor.