The Fourth River

Poem: “A Room Like August in Seattle,” by Priscilla Atkins

By on February 22, 2016

From The Fourth River, Issue 12


Summer conference for librarians––
blah-goals, blah-objectives; jumbo
tablets and colored markers; chipper
white tables we’re chained to by day.
By night, held up (down?) by lumpy
anorexic mattresses. Only comfort:
a bouquet of casa blanca lilies my
love sent, and a spotty copy of Viktor
Frankl. It can take extremes to make
pretend peace: sexless nights in a seedy
room punctuated with death blooms.
This was a long time ago. Then: I
longed for tulip noise. Now: I am
here, home––two days after the full
worm moon (honestly, I want that job!––
toss me a purple crayon)
. Sleepy-beauty,
go-nowhere day. Because I’m home
everything wakes exactly when I do.
Through the slats, my little retinas spy
sumo-sized mist-wrestlers summersaulting
in slow motion. I like fog––
loose, feathery. Sun burning through,
like Pike Place Market the morning I
ducked a keynote, hopped a bus, lost
myself in flowers and fish and French
toast. The kind of day I remember
that one thing I forgot to say.

Priscilla Atkins grew up in central Illinois, went to college in Massachusetts, taught in Los Angeles for a year and at age 22 shipped her car to Hawaii (with no job lined up), where she stayed for ten years. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry London, and The Los Angeles Review, among other journals. Her collection The Café of Our Departure (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015) is included on the American Library
Association’s Over the Rainbow recommended list for 2016.