Night Before Moving Out
by Sonja Johanson

You still feel like my house.
Empty as things are between us,
every sound careening
off your bare walls, dusty
as the floors are underfoot,

you still feel like a room
a person is about to come into.
Through the door I expect
to see you as you were
when we first met —

having just belonged
to someone else, another
person’s scent in your closets
another taste reflected
in your fabrics, the patterns
worn across your halls.

I expect to see you as you were
yesterday, after we’d had years
to lay our marks on one another —
the way I would pace you without
looking, the way you made me feel
safe and lonely at the same time,
how you gave up the wallpaper
for me, how I knew when you
were sick and made it better.

There are no boxes remaining
in the attic, no dishes clatter
on the counter. We’ve done
with the raising of children, done
with the procession of cats
and hamsters and lizards.

We know each other in the way
that needs no speaking, allows
no surprises. I know your creaks
and groans, you know the way
my breath catches in my cheek

when I’m dreaming. Tomorrow
I will take the house plants; you
will keep the garden. I will pack
my bags and drive away; you will
watch me out the windows as I go.

PAINTING: “Cape Cod Morning” by Edward Hopper (1950).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Walking through the empty rooms of my house, I realized that we had developed a relationship with each other, and that each place you live becomes a character in your own personal narrative.

sonja johanson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson has work appearing in or forthcoming at BOAAT, Outlook Springs, and The Writer’s Almanac. She is a contributing editor at the Found Poetry Review, and the author of Impossible Dovetail (IDES, Silver Birch Press, 2015), all those ragged scars (Choose the Sword Press), and Trees in Our Dooryards (Redbird Chapbooks). Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.