A Room for Two

The room first held only two small boys
when those curtains were first hung.
It was the late forties and the pattern
reflected a somewhat modern take
of the times. They were still
there when as a tiny girl I
lost myself in daydreams
by the shapes and colors.

Oh the stories they could tell as
the room became crowded with
four more children–we sisters.
And before we got too big,
we were doubled up in beds,
sharing our too-tight space with
a sibling literally in our face.

As we grew older and had
more need for space, privacy
and autonomy, our dissatisfaction
grew also.

Summer nights brought
sweat and heightened emotions
as one small fan tried
valiantly to disperse the
anguish pent up in that room.

Bickering would escalate into
shouts and attacks. We were
cramped and forced into
togetherness that added its toll
to our lack of comfort.
We lashed out with fierceness.
We didn’t have the words to
express our grief and distress
but we did have our anger.

No one was exempt from
being pounded. Well,
except for maybe the baby.
Her quiet demeanor and
sweet innocence somehow
protected her from a lot
of the verbal and physical
abuse that we liberally
heaped upon each other.

The six of us “shared” that
one tiny room until we grew,
literally, too big to fit in it.
We overflowed out to the
couch which had a trundle
beneath so two of us could
sleep with a semblance of
having at least our own bed.
And out to the raggedy rattan
sofa on the enclosed porch with
the lumpy cushions that
gave me backaches as a teen.
I wanted no part of it.
I railed against the
injustice of my circumstances.

Living in those close quarters
was an agony that whittled
at my self-worth.
I knew my friends didn’t
live like I did.
They had rooms to themselves
or maybe shared with just
one other.
Their homes were quiet,
orderly places without
the noise…and drunk
parent laying passed out
on the living room floor.
I retreated until depression
and anxiety rendered
me mute and unable to
see a place where I belonged.

I remain a hyper-sensitive
person. Perhaps I’m better
able to sense when someone
else is hurting and can offer
some solace. And though I’ve
come a long way in my
understanding, even for those
who brought me suffering,
that small child can still emerge
and fall silent, not knowing
where her place is in the world.

Mary Kling hosts us at dVerse for Poetics where our topic is “Rooms.”  Please join us.  http://dversepoets.com/2016/02/16/poetics-room-with-or-without-a-view/

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