Greg's Room
by Danielle Burhop

Mom is making your room an office. 
I wasn't supposed to tell you; 
she threatened in her usual way, 
her owl-neck swiveled, searching 
the readiness of my casual nod, 
my fingers for the itch of your phone number. 

She's already started the dressing-down. 
The pinchbeck trophies that lined 
your shelf, each of some palooka 
stamped in a virile pose, face 
blank as the moon, has been burped 
into casket-sized tupperware. 

Your murals, pulled down from the wall, 
cite erstwhile best friends: Carl, 
the thespian who wore his charm 
like a loose T-shirt; 
Patsy, who kept your heart in her shoe. 
And you, with a dangled cigarette, 
hair in your eyes, winking 
that smile that made girls so greedy. 

The decor is as if life 
spit up upon your walls. 
Your sloppy autobiography, 
a jumble of tacked-up memorabilia: 
flags from camp, photos of girls 
15 forever on your bulletin board. 
Tolkien and Watterson, strange bedfellows, 
yellow and sweeten on your bookshelf. 

I love the baseball cap graveyard: 
mostly won or earned, each a Boy Scout 
badge for your head. They sit 
in your closet in a clump, tattered 
and sweat-stained, too dear 
to be cast to landfill forever.

My room, which did not smell 
of almond grove, was made sterile 
as soon as I set foot on the stoop, 
suitcase in hand. Yours breathed 
seven solitary years, like a deep gouge
in wall paint, showing past generations
of misbegotten color: puce, mustard, 
rainbow appliqué. This shedding of time 
will probably seem like turpentine: 
caustic, flammable, too serious 
to seem really necessary.

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Danielle Burhop is an IAS undergraduate student at University of Washington, Bothell, and is an NSCC alumnus. She has been published previously in Exile and Twice-Bloomed Wistaria. She can be found traipsing around The Loft with bewildered ESL tutees, and posting snarky tidbits at