The Window’s Memory
I don’t know what the storefront
once displayed—pots and pans,
perhaps, or typewriters. Plumbing
fixtures. A dressmaker’s dummy
and a sewing machine.
Years later, when I moved there,
claiming the remnant air
and echoing rooms, the bay window
offered only the dark carcasses
of flies and curled shreds of wallpaper
flayed by the sun’s hard glare,
gold lattice on white,
water-stained and rippled.
What the sun had begun
I continued, pulling down wallpaper
and beneath it layer upon layer
of newspaper with narrow columns
of fifty-year-old news.
And that too I worried from the wall,
peeling strips delicate as sunburned skin
to reveal the eager reports of weddings
and scandals, the paper falling to flakes
in one place, hard as cement in another,
the stories already old
when they were pasted there,
already forgotten. The layers stuck
crosswise, one on the next,
indifferent as I scratched each
from the other, as if the one beneath,
or beneath that, might contain the truth.
A Pushcart nominee and winner of the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship, J. I. Kleinberg is co-editor of Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington (Other Mind Press 2015). Her poetry has appeared recently in One, Diagram, Otoliths, Poetry Breakfast, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and blogs most days at chocolateisaverb.wordpress.com and thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.