Wallpaper

It was a dingy beige

With faded blue flowers;

Here and there

A circle or square

The shadows left behind

Of loved ones

Kept safe

Behind dusty glass

And ornately carved wood.

It reminded her of her parents’ kitchen

The beige and blue

Faded and stained by

Age and cooking grease

“Give us this day our daily bread”

In a border

Running all around the counter.

Not the design choice

Of our not-at all religious parents

But left there

For over 25 years

After they moved in

Corners pulling away

Pieces ripped off where panels came together

Begging to be pulled down.

This wallpaper

In front of her now

The dingy beige

With the faded blue flowers

In the corner of a dark hallway

Seemed to speak to her.

She saw the flowers

Bend to an imagined wind

Heavy heads pointing the way out

Pointing to a torn corner

Upper right corner

Careful cursive underneath.

She gripped it gently

Between two fingers

Peeling slowly

Holding her breath without realizing it

Revealing bits and pieces

Puzzle pieces

Scraps of beige and blue

Still clinging to some

Not quite ready

To let go

But no matter

Fully revealed

Or not

The message was clear:

Time was being wasted

On specifics

Semantics

Circumstances

Fear;

Yet still, she felt the need

To keep peeling the paper back

It was tedious work

And in her windowless corner

The heat was suffocating

She had trouble making out all of the words

And in the dark failed to notice

When scraps of paper cut into the tender flesh

Underneath her fingernails;

Her blood fell to the floor

With the dusty bits of

Beige and blue

The answer was there somewhere

In the careful cursive script

The handwriting somehow so

Familiar.

In the end, after the last piece was pulled free

An impossibly small nub

A pencil

Was set free

Rolled to a stop at her dusty feet

Beckoning her

To finish the story.