if these walls could talk

“If These Walls Could Talk,” “Images of Night,” and “Overheard on a Train”

In Issue 77 by Russell Willis

if these walls could talk
Photo by Richard on Adobe Stock

If These Walls Could Talk

If only these walls could talk

we wonder

What might goad their reluctant tongues?

Wondered more often

by those who would be betrayed or wounded by the

small talk or gloating of these walls

by those who would be healed or comforted by the

truth they could tell

by those delighted by wit or disgusted by cruelty;

tickled by joy

taunted by hubris

tainted or even teased by innuendo

But should you stop and listen

listen with senses of  heart and memory

these walls and floors and stuff of space

regale or incite, binding with the spell of a living past,

tales eloquently or quaintly or heartbreakingly

certainly breathlessly

recounted

The smell of old wood declaring stability     

lingering paint and oil and sawdust odor

of studios or workshops

old-paper mustiness of a library or schoolroom

dirty diaper and powder aroma

swearing that we can taste pies or bread or soup

the waft of long-gone beloved or bedeviled pets

in carpet or floorboards

Stains on the bedstead and floorboards from alcohol splashed

over a child’s feverish body

rectangles of darker or lighter wallpaper or paint

concealed for years behind a picture or map

The rounded edge of stair or steps from countless treads

sagging shelves that bore the weight of imagination

ruts of rocking chairs and dimples of piano legs

Scratch marks, hopefully, of those afore-remembered pets

staircase railings polished smooth with the friction and oils of

holding tight so as not to fall

discerned by feet that retrace and hands that curiously caress this space

Wondering all the while what the walls would say

if they could talk

Images of Night

A watercolor sky adorns the western wall

‘till Dusk turns down the lamp

and empty darkness fills the room.

A window on the eastern wall

looks out upon a rising moon

whose beams throw shadows on the floor

And through the windows fireflies flit

To hover just above our reach

in patterns fashioned of epic lore.

But sleep soon robs the night of life

and a lingering lazy doze

conceals a glimpse of Dawn, shyly

peering through the eastern window now.

Eventually, Day wanders in for breakfast

and stays for lunch and supper

then sets in a favorite chair to paint

a watercolor sky on the western wall.

Overheard on a Train

Layered within the rhythmic thrum,

random bumps and grinds,

snatches of conversations,

a soft, warm voice of middle age glides into my consciousness,

rendered in that moment

as words in English

tinted

with what my mostly                 distracted                              brain

accepts as a French accent.

“Should I say Goodnight? ...  or should I say...”                  

            my mind’s eye conjures a listening stare [tellingly expressionless]

            a smile [tentative, hopeful]

“OK...  until then...”

            a laugh [almost embarrassed, but more delighted than embarrassed]

            another laugh [almost the same, but now much more a sigh]

“OK...”  [silence, promising a next....]

About the Author

Russell Willis

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Russell Willis emerged as a poet in 2019 with the publication of three poems in The Write Launch. Since then, he has published poetry in over thirty online and print journals and twenty print anthologies. He won the Sapphire Prize in Poetry in the 2022 Jewels in the Queen’s Crown Contest (Sweetycat Press). Russell grew up in and around Texas (USA) and was vocationally scattered as an engineer, ethicist, college/university teacher and administrator, and Internet education entrepreneur and pastor throughout the Southwest and Great Plains, finally settling in Vermont with his wife, Dawn.

Read more work by Russell Willis .

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