The Seam

She is more often not the good daughter
her mother raised her to be. See
the way her lips have thinned to a
dry line, pulled in under teeth,
a careful seam.

Why does the word “eggshell” anger
her so? Five swipes of paint
she brushed on the bathroom wall.
A row of grays because he wants
his bathroom dark to match
the hard tile floor in
the breaking down house.

He will choose “Almost Charcoal,”
a color she doesn’t understand
for some reason. She will tuck away
“Mountain Smoke.” Oh, how it
begged to be framed in crisp white
–warm, spare, soft.

Her color seems more like
the damp, sanded driftwood
of that time she sat for an hour
at dawn. When her lips fell open to
breathe in a waking up world,
to taste the sea like a sailor,
the sound of it pounding
away every hard word held back
by the seam.

The ghost of a good daughter
will rage against the old wallpaper.
She will steep her hands in buckets of acid.
Peel, scrape, scrub walls until
they bear nothing more then
a want for another history.


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