by Nicole Callihan

Nicole Callihan

In the middle of my fifth decade, there were so many rooms.
Catfish room of my girlhood where I'd throw nets.
Fishnet room of my twenties where I'd run my hands.
There was a room filled with hearts, both human and animal.
Your heart was there, of course, throbbing, warm.
Mostly, old friends walked through my dreams.
Hillery with her dog; Jane along the beach.
Zoë and I wrote of how there were more days gone than coming.
We thought we were okay with this, but maybe we weren't.
The whistle of the steam train blew.
There were choices I had made which were poor.
But then, there were plenty which seemed to indicate wisdom.
I knew I wanted cake, so was happy to have a cake room.
Also, most of the rooms had windows, and I like light.
I had gained a little weight, but, still, was sleeping.
I wondered if I would soon descend into melancholia.
In the candle room, I counted forty-five candles.
And when I wanted something to grow on, I counted another.
I needed to call my mother back.
I didn't want my mother ever to die.
She had given birth to me forty-five years before.
Giving birth is excruciatingly painful.
For a long while, it seemed better not to name things.
But then, I wanted to give everything a name.
The desire room, the comfort room, the husband room.
There are poems I want to be read at my funeral.
In the heart room are the hearts of two cats I left for dead.
I still feel bad about that, and other things.
I hope that I have not been too unkind.
Kristin boils eggs that we will later eat.
I tend to start in the past and move to the present.
I tell my students I need space.
Press the Enter key, I say.
I press the Enter key.
I will go for a swim, even though I do not swim.
I will sing a song, even though I do not sing.
There is a fucking room and a weeping room.
There is a room where I do nothing but fold laundry.
I will write you a letter today and press flowers into it.
It will be so sad, for a little while, when one of us dies.
We will be like, wait, it is Sunday, where are you?
But then another will die, and another.
After a while, it won't be sad anymore.
It will just be the way things are.
There is a room where things are just as they are.
I am there now. I write myself a birthday poem,
and then, I open the windows to let in more air.

Last updated November 23, 2022