In an Empty Green Room by Gabi Clayton

there are times now
when I recognize
that I have forgotten you
spaces now
where you are absent
even in the everyday minutiae
until my finger brushes against
the tag from the crematorium
kept in the same glass tray
I keep earrings in
and I recognize once again
that you will always be seventeen

you live now with my father
in an empty green room
where I am always twelve

I do my best to fill it with light
but that must be for me
mother and daughter
as it is always too late
for father and son

Gabi Clayton is a graphic and web designer at ClaytonWorks, an designer and editor at Mud Flat Press, office manager for Interfaith Works, and an activist, grandmother, mother, therapist and wife. “In an Empty Green Room” was written in response, decades later, to Clayton’s parents’ divorce when she was 9, the death of her father when she was 12 and the suicide of her youngest son when he was 17.