During my poetry workshop in college, my professor would give us writing assignments in addition to the mandatory share-a-poem-every-other-class. Sharona would either bring an object (usually art of some sort) or a story and tell us to write for a few minutes, take our poem home and expand.
The first day of class she informed us that the word stanza is an old Italian word that means “the beginning” but also “a room” and then asked us to write a poem that explored a room. My first attempt to write my stanza poem was a failure because I never really understood the history and importance of a room. But now that I have had some significant life experiences, I wrote the stanza poem (three years later).
Everything In This Room
This room is 288 square feet, not including attic space.
In this room, we were found either fucking, fighting or sleeping.
In this room I threw the framed photo of him and his wife against the closet door (chunks
of glass were embedded in the wood work).
In this room we attempted to have sex while standing up (failed).
In this room I began to hate him.
In this room I learned how to forgive her.
This room is, in fact, an entire apartment.
The bathroom in this room was not meant for double occupancy.
This room taught me that I do not fare well in committed relationships.
In this room the sheets were changed weekly.
I learned how to iron his Oxford shirts in this room.
At 3 A.M. I would wake to darkness and his hands cupping my breasts.
In this room I began to starve myself to prove to that others would desire me.
He would pull a chair a foot away from the television in order to ignore me.
I am convinced he kissed her in this room.
I am convinced that he fucked her in this room, but I will never know for sure.
In this room, I cooked sweet meats but he never said “Thank you.”
My belongings were stored in the attic in an attempt to cover my presence. I made it a
point to go up there to retrieve items as often as possible.
We once had sex for six hours in this room (no one orgasmed).
In this room, I suffered fits of jealousy.
In his room I watched the Bird of Paradise plant wilt. He kept it (a Father’s Day gift
In this room, I came to understand why Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month”
This room reminds me of failure.
This room’s remembrance gives me hope.
In this room he told me that he would never marry me.
My mother stormed into this room, packed my things and told me, “Do not be too proud
On the car ride home, my mother told me to be strong and lose the tears.
That was not the first time I left. The third time was the charm.
The walls of this room were coated in layers of cigarette smoke and sorrow.
Twice I threatened to kill myself while standing in the kitchen.
Twice he ignored me, rolled over and fell asleep.
In this room, we watched every Detroit Tigers’ baseball game.
This room was furnished with the following: sleeper sofa, cushioned chair, two end tables
and two lamps, a dresser, mirror, small dining table and two wooden chairs.
Often I wanted to apologize to the man who lived next door.
The blinds were never open.
April would stand outside the window and try to watch our shadows.
April stole the bird feeder that I bought in early September.
I cannot count how many nights were interrupted by her banging on the door (2 A.M.)
She would deny being there, saying it was my guilty conscious telling me something.
In this room, he shoved me against a wall.
In this room I learned how love devolves into violence.
After June, I do not recall him saying “I love you”
He would have me park my car across the street if I wanted to stay the night.
We fought every day in this room (that is no exaggeration).
I spent Valentine’s Day alone in this room.
This room represents a year of my life when I lost myself.
He drank approximately a case of beer every day while sitting half-naked on the couch.
I accumulated bruises and scars (physical, emotional, etc.) within these four walls.
I became malicious in this room.
I became spiteful in this room.
I finally found compassion in this room.
In this room I realized conflict is not the answer.