Open House
by Tina Hacker

My husband frowns
at blotches of my toothpaste
on the bathroom mirror
as if they are bruises
on our home, like scars
on a face that cause people
to turn away,
stains that will scare buyers
before they see other rooms
boasting flawless complexions.

Strangers look into
corners and closets
and we are stripped naked
by the rise of an eyebrow,
the widening of an eye,
our routines exposed
in the folds of a blanket,
the drape of a towel.

Children run down hallways
of this new playground.
A boy tosses a yellow ball
into the air, watches it
bounce against crown molding;
his brother pushes a truck across
the floor, sideswiping table legs
as it conquers the road.

Their mother mouths
“no” to her husband; her verdict
leaves us slighted and sore.
The gracious demeanor
I donned that morning unravels.
I catch the ball, pick up the truck,
ignore the mother’s look of disdain
that condemns both me and my house.
She slams the door as she walks out.

A young teacher sits on our sofa,
reluctant to leave the house
she wants but can’t afford.
I fill the place she vacates,
lean against the still warm pillow
trying to see my home through her eyes.

SOURCE: Previously published in Cutting It.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From two homes to one. Selling a house is difficult as anyone who has sold one knows. This poem reflects the emotions we had and “a trial by toothpaste” at our first open house.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, both online and paper. Her full-length poetry book, Listening to Night Whistles, , published by Aldrich Press and her chapbook, Cutting It, published by The Lives You Touch Publications are available on Amazon. Since 1976, she has edited poetry for Veterans’ Voices, a magazine of writing by veterans across the country. This year she was given the honor of being a 2016 Muse of The Writers Place in Kansas City.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Tina Hacker posing behind a cutout at a performance ofThe Magic Flute.