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The Wallpaper in My Mother's Hall
by Lyn Lifshin

grey background with dark
rose figures floating on boats.
Maybe my mother saw them
as a way out, a slow boat to
anywhere but this calendar
town she grew up in and fled,
intoxicated by New York City,
Boston, Baltimore. Trees,
scenery she'd scowl, wanting
theaters, French restaurants,
a boat ride on the Charles, some
one to go with her to lectures
and plays. Deep in the storeroom
closet she never got to sort out
rolls of the wallpaper, brittle and
fragile as the life she didn't lead
for long. In her last days, asked
where, if she could go anywhere,
she would chose, her eyes lit up,
New York. She took us to plays,
to Greenwich Village where
Theodore Bikel was playing in
the square. Honey, the city is so
magical she grinned and now on
trips from Virginia to upstate New
York, I only want to be awake for
the lights from the Empire State
Building and World Trade Center,
city rhinestones and diamonds, as
much her as this wallpaper she never
changed from the 40's, hanging in
strips now, like her skin did when she
was no longer plump and strong,
able to open jars nobody else could.
I imagine leaning against the warm
marble topped radiators, my mother
talking to a friend as Otter Creek
roared and the traffic sloshed thru
December. Snow on Main Street, the
Jasmine leaves in a young Asian woman's
hair, a pale rose I wanted to be thin
enough to look as fragile in

Lyn Lifshin Bio


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