Five-Story House


Everything begins, somehow. I wish I could remember the moment before I began
to hurt this way. There was a time when my body held no secrets. How did my blood
move through me in those days? My guess is: easily, without a second thought.


I have never had a bedroom at my father’s house. For a time, before he remarried,
he laid a mattress on the floor & it was mine. When he built his own house, it had
a room for my brother, another for my sister, another for my stepmom’s treadmill.


Yesterday I had a waking dream in which my inner child had untethered herself from me
like an astronaut abandoning her spacewalk, floating adrift. If she feels that way now,
I felt that way back then. I can remember if I close my eyes. I try not to close my eyes.


I tell my husband I want my own bedroom & he laughs, not unkindly. He knows I ache
for a space no one can take from me. I would accept my own mattress on the floor.
We compromise; I choose new pillows & on Mondays I sleep alone on the couch.


I believed I’d see clearly from here. Have I not climbed high enough yet, am I not far
from being a child? Inside, my blood gets stuck in old places. I have never felt new.
I keep angling for a glimpse of my whole self, but all the taller houses block the view.

Erica Reid, is smiling and wearing a blue dress covered in gold stars.

Erica Reid is a Colorado poet, editor, educator, and critic. Her debut collection Ghost Man on Second won the 2023 Donald Justice Poetry Prize and will be published by Autumn House Press in early 2024. Erica’s poems will appear in Rattle, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Inflectionist Review, and more.