I miss the black wrought iron fire escape with its steps
that rattled outside the kitchen window on its way
up to the tenement roof top.
I miss the twin bed next to the kitchen table, where
my mother slept and tried to convince me (and herself)
that it was just like the sleeping alcove in an old Irish cottage.
I miss the washing machine next to the sink
that she camouflaged with a pretty table runner
and a vase of plastic daisies whenever it wasn’t in use.
I miss the contact paper behind the stove that my mother changed
every now and then to convert the cracked plaster walls into
brickwork or wood grain depending on her mood and what was on sale.
I miss it all except the roaches. Not even through nostalgia’s
gauziest lens could I ever miss them. Even now, fifty years later,
I would still tell those roaches to go straight to hell.
Gloria Heffernan’s Exploring Poetry of Presence (Back Porch Productions) won the 2021 CNY Book Award for Nonfiction. She received the 2023 Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize. She is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and three chapbooks including “Peregrinatio: Poems for Antarctica” (Kelsay Books) which was a finalist for the 2021 Grayson Books Chapbook Prize. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in over 100 publications including the anthology Poetry of Presence (vol. 2) and Without a Doubt: Poems Illuminating Faith.