EVEN THE NAILS IN THE SHEET ROCK MISSED HER
When she entered a room, the room paid attention.
When she entered his house,
the leather couches plumped up and shone,
the hardwood floors were giddy with tapping
against the soles of her small black shoes,
the books on the shelves jostled each other
for a better view of the waves of her hair.
When she didn’t come, the walls held their breath,
straining to hear her voice, her laugh.
When she still didn’t come, that crying noise wasn’t him.
The white gauze curtains hung keening,
as they remembered the stroke of her fingers.
And at night, when he turned and turned,
it was only because the bed prodded him continually,
as the pillows pleaded in his ear, “Bring her back.”
And when he sat up, his hand on his chest,
how could he breathe,
when all the air had gone out into the street
calling her name?
—from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
Cheryl Gatling: “I was a late bloomer. Whatever writing promise I showed as a girl lay dormant until I was almost 40. Then, almost every night, poetry emerged as a necessary part of who I am. Pity my poor husband, the computer geek, who married a registered nurse, a practical reliable girl, and woke up one day with a bohemian artist type. His support in the face of change is its own work of art.”