9 – The Blue Room, Version 1

In the blue room where I stayed at my grandmother’s house
all those long afternoons and evenings
the only things blue were the walls and the ceiling
everything else was white —
a dull white that reminded me of mushrooms,
like a mucousy Campbell’s mushroom soup—
really, white and nicotine-stained from a toxic tonic
of acrid smoke and dog dander that made its way under the door
despite best intentions

maybe my parents could see the difference between that smoke
and the fine, gray mist of the humidifier set high on the dresser for maximum results,
but I couldn’t……………….breathe

at least the ceiling was blue, almost like the sky,
but even it assumed a certain dullness of spirit —
it was hard not to in that room

that room where the only real contrast was the black door
the creepy black door that led to the creaky attic ……………….and bats

now that’s something to think about while you’re trying to breathe
the bats……………….or the kids playing in the yard beneath the window
all those long afternoons and evenings
running and laughing with deep, unasthmatic shouts

one could think about them, too, but I rarely did

stay focused on the breath, my yoga instructor reminds me now
and I take it for granted……………….oh how I take it for granted
back then, in the blue room, breath came at a price
the cost of which included that odd solitary confinement
and drugs to induce my fight or flight to breathe

one would think not being able to breathe was induction enough
to fight or flight the fuck out of there,
but the shiny white pills were too much for my ten year old self
who had no choice but to sleep off the tremors
and lose herself in the pages of words and worlds
all those long afternoons and evenings ……………….breathing still

Poem ©2019, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month #9 and NaPoWriMo poem. #NaPoWriMo. For more poetry by Jen Payne, purchase a copy of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind! BUY THE BOOK TODAY!

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