The Fourth River

A Room Like August in Seattle

From The Fourth River, Issue 12

By Priscilla Atkins

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.