MaryAnn L. Miller

Little Room Off the Kitchen

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

From the bottom of my bed
in the little room off the kitchen
I watch through the door
that won’t stay shut. In the early morning,
radio low, mother and father shuffle on the dull red
asphalt tile stained with egg yolk and coffee,
Iayers of routine like yellowing pages of wax.

Alone, they speak few words,
knowing what was next. He pulls on
clean work socks sitting
on the first step down to the back door,
then laces his steel toed boots.
(One April Fool’s Day
I put walnuts in his socks.)

He picks up the dented steel dinner bucket
that smells like a clamshell no matter
how much my mother cleans it with baking soda.
I hear him leave as I drift back
to sleep in the little room off the kitchen.
She pours another cup of coffee and washes up.
Those mornings lose their shape year

after year, toast crumbs underfoot,
one dawn just like another. Until one morning
she weeps reading the Cheerios box.
I must have been asleep when they talked
about selling that house he built for her.
A new owner would tear up the lusterless tile,
laminate over our history,

but we wouldn’t see it because we pack,
move across town to the house
on the South Side where my father grew up,
where we spill ourselves onto
Grandma’s black and white linoleum
that mother says
shows the dirt.

Editor’s Note: Experience some of MaryAnn Miller’s artwork in this issue of Wordgathering.

About the Author

MaryAnn L. Miller is the author of Cures for Hysteria (Finishing Line Press 2018.) She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry, book reviews or essays have appeared in Mom Egg Review,Wild River Review,Presence Journal, Ovanque Siamo, Stillwater Review, Wordgathering, Kaleidoscope, Passager, The International Review of African America Art and others. Miller is the Poetry Coordinator for the NJ Book Arts Symposium. She publishes hand bound artist books through her press:

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