Portrait of Dorm Room, with Brothers, in the Year Before I Left


Seventeen boxes of tea. The banned rice cooker

on the windowsill. Blue shards from the kettle

we broke two weeks ago, fighting

over the last Oreo.

Umbrellas dripping on the linoleum

and no place to put my shoes. Yes, I know

this isn’t going to last.


This winter, the slats of your bed

fall through one by one, until nothing

is holding you up. We have no tissues,

no paper towels. You cry into napkins.

Our boyfriends break up with us

and our friend groups break up with each other.

You have panic attacks in the shower

that I have on the bus.

How are we supposed to know

what will break and what will last?

First year, you were too scared

to talk to me. I went to bed early,

in my own dorm. I never sang “Be My Escape”

at three in the morning, so loud I thought

for sure, this time, we would get

a noise complaint. I never

would have dared.


That year, we sit on your broken bed

until the last leg snaps. We take

the trash out.

We eat cake on the only birthday

I’ve ever wanted to be alive. Next year,

I will have transferred halfway across the country.

You say the green air mattress is always

mine, even though it has a hole in it,

the edges stitched up with masking tape.

Busted, whatever. It’s mine, you say,

as long as I want it.