My Mother’s Room

by K.D. Miller

My mother had no room of her own.
She had the left side of her bridal bed.
She had a dresser, daintier
than my father’s chest of drawers,
with a tray of tangled beads
and a mirror that caught her
touching her hair in passing.

She had the company of radio
and ironing board, could paper
the kitchen walls with prattle
of her day to the unhearing table,
or could strip the air of flavour
as we chewed her every silent word.

She had a closet full of rag and broom
for reaching after retreating dust,
for drying the wet, rubbing the dry,
creating the daily illusion of shine.

She had the washing machine
and the backyard drying carousel
to turn and turn, clothes-pegging
her worries, flat from the wringer,
setting her wishes to swell in the wind.

She had lives, whole inches thick,
that she borrowed from the library,
returning this martyr, that queen,
rendered richer and more holy
for the tear dropped in the margin,
the hair shed to bookmark a page.

But she had no room of her own,
and I would not let her into mine,
though I heard her twisting the knob,
tapping the wood, waiting for a crack
of light round the door, watching
the curtains for a single twitch.

She withdrew. Learned
to breakfast on the crusts
of terse calls, and to brew,
from what she could glean
between hastily dropped lines,
long cups of afternoons.

Now her dresser stands beside a bed
whose both sides I claim. Her tray
holds my beads, her mirror the face
I’m learning to share, remembering
her finger inching word by word
across a page, stitching a story
for me to wear. Come in, I say now
to us two. There’s plenty of room.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 2