An old man stands in the empty room.
It needs new wallpaper, he thinks;
it had been years since he and his wife
had pasted up new. It was the year before
her death; she felt the room craved
a warmer look; he had to agree with her.
With a penknife the man slowly cuts
back the top layer of wallpaper.
He steps back and listens to the faint
singing of his wife in the kitchen
as she begins to prepare dinner.
He wonders if it is that late.
He cuts back another layer of paper;
this room had been his two sons’ bedroom.
Through the window he sees the two boys
playing basketball in the driveway.
The man places his hand on the window;
confused, he turns back and cuts more.
A ten-year-old boy stands in the room;
he recognizes this as his own room.
On the other side of the bedroom door
he hears his mother and father arguing.
Saddened, the boy turns and walks back
to the wall; he cuts back another layer.
Through the window, sunlight is shining
on a small crib in the center of the room.
Inside, a baby boy stares at the soft pink
rose bud patterns. The infant reaches out
his tiny hand.
This poem originally appeared in Clock Radio #5, Fall 1986. The poem also appears in Pitts’ book Ear Evolution, from Clock Radio Press.