In Rooms Like These
Even now, I see her moon face,
those limpid eyes, half slits with
sleep, lying in repose beside me.
In those days, we lived in bars and
boxes. Hers, a refuge in winter.
On the ground floor. Brooklyn
tenement. Windowless, night black,
like a sensory deprivation chamber.
Fully equipped; kitchen, bathroom,
(luxuries,) an anxious cat named
Jolene. Nothing was safe from Sara’s
errant limbs. Not books, small electronics,
porcelain figurines, of which
we had none. A wild caress
could send the charred corpse of
a Cornish game hen careening to
the floor to be eaten by Jolene.
“Oh well, we’ll have to share,” Sara said.
“With the cat?” I said.
Washington Heights, Railroad flat,
hallway like a tunnel leading
to my cell. Cold, drafty, splintered
bed in the corner. Tattered ruins,
shattered glass, plastic bags, rotting wood
windowpane. The moon cast shadows
of angular light across pale
skin. Creatures scurried across the
vinyl tiles, cimex lectularius,
blattodea, musca domestica.
We hoped for dust. We both knew
better. And on her first night she
looked at me with hooded eyes and said:
“I always find myself in rooms like these.”
“In rooms like what?” I said,
“In rooms like what.”
more by SERGIO REMON ALVAREZ
photograph by James Marcom