The beaded curtain parts across my face, like the Jordan, as I walk through, then rattles like a snake on my heels. This is the living room, where I have never truly lived. This is your home, and not mine. My feet sink into the bruise-colored shag carpet.
The purple horned mask on the wall thrusts out its red tongue at me. The dark mahogany bulls on the ends of the table snort silently with brass rings in their nostrils. Carved together back to back, they never see each other. They are like us, Mother, locked together yet so distant.
You recline in the dark painting on the wall, with one golden Rapunzel braid hanging limply over your shoulder. Would you let down your braid for me? I wish I could find a sturdy vine to climb up into your wind-chilled tower. Your friends encircle you in the picture, some sit upon the floor, some on the couch. Are you having a rap session or perhaps a love-in? I imagine your voice talking to me instead of to them. I search the painted oil strokes of your face, but you have no eyes, nose, or mouth.
Sometimes when the Siamese cat struts across your lap and brushes up against your chin, I am jealous because I wish I could inhale the scent of you and know the softness of your hands.
Upon the mantle over the fireplace, the hot purple candle wax bleeds and hisses around the mold with the wick sticking out. The warm bread dough sighs in the giant blue pottery bowl next to it. Freshly tie-dyed shirts snuggle together in the wicker basket by the doorway. The candles, the bread, the tie-dye: none of them are for me. Who do you make them for?
A psychedelic collage hangs on a hallway door with various sayings inscribed into it, such as “Kings who live in glass houses shouldn’t stow thrones”and “It is better to love a short man than never to have loved a tall.” Everyone admires your charm and cleverness. But I am invisible like Casper the ghost, with no friends.
The gloomy dulcimer with grieving strings hangs on the wall, and Joan Baez sings tragic ballads in another room. Your purple crocheted sandals rest side by side with their laces tangled together in front of the stony fireplace. I wish I were your sandals or a musical instrument, so that you would walk with me or strum me gently and sing to me.
The books of witchcraft and demonology line the bookshelves. They frighten me, so I try not to look at them. Who will you cast your spells upon? Perhaps I could work a love spell upon you, and make your empty eye sockets light up again with affection. For me. Alone.
Mother, where do you go for so long? I am a reflection of you, with icy blue eyes and corn silk hair. Why do you hide me in shame, and leave me alone after nightfall? This room is chilly and haunted with images of you dancing like the candle flame that makes me want to burn myself. I would do it, if it would make you worry about me, if it would make you love me and hold me on your lap and hug me. I would do anything…
(Sayings from: The Stubborn King by Carl Etheridge, David Chambless)