The air, harsh with dust, looks for a throat to snag behind the front door. The particle board cabinet has a vacuum cleaner hiding in it like a ghost, its doors gently swaying back and forth on their hinges.
The red carpet is peeling, lightly touched by sunset’s cool fingertips and pressed down by years of heavy footsteps. Dust bunnies in the corners blow in a draft; lamps sit on the floor like abandoned obelisks.
She won’t understand
the parts of her old age she
can’t handle feeling.
One should be afraid of stepping on the scalding, rusted heating vents or knocking over her eclectic art collection: triangles indented into turquoise clay, watercolors of sharp toothed faces in the moon, and pictures of spiraling white houses that look like desert apparitions.
Her sheet music, the corners of the pages yellow and soft, still sits on the piano. The giant windows above the couch are smudged where the greasy dog pressed his nose as he whined to go outside.
We’re helpless with her;
we watch each room’s warm lightbulbs
burn out their bright hearts.
She has cardboard shoeboxes of glass slides with tiny pictures of icons and saints, their eyes asking everything of us. It would take days to go through and years to learn how to throw away. She left an apple, now rotten, on the stained kitchen table, with her reading glasses, black diary, and ripped envelopes.
Single pane windows
out of place; will her house look
like this when she’s gone?
Vera Caldwell is a sophomore at Houston’s Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Along with writing, she plays the guitar and composes songs in her band Nobody’s Daughter. Some of her favorite writers include Mikhail Bulgakov, Stanislaw Lem, Patti Smith, Ocean Vuong, and Fleur Jaeggy.