Don’t worry, I promised my mother,
I’ll finish the room.
She lay in the hospice bed,
her chest spongy with cancer.
She had me get the scrap
of paper from her purse, her notes:
the carpet, the table, the wicker, the paint.
I stroked her skeletal hand.
Then day turned its face away.
Weeks later, I bought the paint, made the time.
But my father put me off:
I don’t want to get into it.
Spring trudged into winter.
I saved another Saturday,
bought floral cushions;
but again my father found reasons to say no.
On the one year anniversary, I tried once more
and still his grief—or was it plain stubbornness?—
closed on the subject like a door.
Mom, I wanted to keep my last promise.
But the room is as you left it:
the wicker a clashing blue next to pale green walls,
the dingy carpet,
the scratched table standing its ground.
Gianna Russo is the author of the poetry collections One House Down (Madville Publishing) and Moonflower (Kitsune Books), winner of a Florida Book Award. Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, The Sun, and Calyx, among others. She is an assistant professor at Saint Leo University and currently serves as the inaugural Wordsmith of The City of Tampa.
Melody Serra‘s passion is teaching and empowering others by sharing what she has learned. She helped launch an arts and crafts program at a children’s hospital and also taught at San Quentin State Prison. Melody hopes to inspire youth to explore and expand their creativity through web development, writing, and art.