Issue 12

Summer 2014


The Guest Room

She’d painted this room yellow; sunny cheer
lit every nook. Her husband had inquired,
lip curled, “Is it a little bright in here?” –

but she’d pronounced it “fresh.” She’d been inspired
by daffodils and lemons, and she’d planned
a room that sparkled. When her guests retired,

they’d find a welcome warm as summer sand
(the carpet shade) and vibrant as the prints
of tulips that she’d framed. She’d found a hand-

embroidered quilt in shades of peach and quince,
its pattern linking perfect wedding rings,
and curtains made of daisy-speckled chintz.

She’d splurged, despite her husband’s mutterings,
on pillows stitched with dandelions and wheat
and lampshades dyed to match canaries’ wings.

At last the brilliant project was complete:
a radiantly cozy sanctuary,
just as she’d hoped. She couldn’t wait to treat

some guests, who would appreciate its airy,
fair-weather ambiance, its tasteful shine –
or so she’d thought. Her husband’s commentary

on brightness hadn’t fazed her, but that line
seemed prescient now, a hint of gloom ahead,
their disagreement petty, but a sign

of their dim future. Minor quarrels led
to major discord, and soon they were fighting
so much they could no longer share a bed.

She took the guest room, secretly delighting
in her retreat to butter-colored peace –
but found the room was not quite as inviting

as she’d expected. It brought no release
from disenchantment’s chilly steel-gray snare
or from the murk of tears that wouldn’t cease.

She learned that light could leave one cold: the glare
of yellow lit up failures, loneliness,
and grief. The sunny sparkle of this lair

uncovered what she’d thought she could suppress,
illuminating utter emptiness.


Jean L Kreiling