My shower curtain has known me longer
than any of my lovers.
It’s kept my tears in the tub
and blocked out the sun of unwelcomed dawns.
It’s musty with the history
of my mildewing melodramas,
the watercolor ink splatters taking the shape
of blue fish and red petunias,
it is my cloak
behind which I have played both coy and coward,
been embraced and rejected.
I’ve held onto it for dear life,
back-handed battered when it clung too tightly,
slammed shut and ripped open –
its shrill metal accordion melody
of both my beginnings and endings.
Oh, shower curtain,
you were once the newest thing I owned,
the most adult,
and the most expensive.
$24.99 at Ikea.
When I took you home that first night
with matching towels and bathmat,
I unwrapped you with the delicacy of a tissue-papered Tiffany’s box.
You meant something.
You meant I finally had a home safe enough to make monthly decisions in.
You comforted my flu and whiskey stomach with your maternal familiarity.
You were the only vinyl I could afford.
You meant art and privacy,
sanctuary and stability.
You meant I am my mother’s daughter--
the kind of woman who decorates,
even the bathroom.
Oh, shower curtain,
you know all my truths.
You know me Midwest meltdown and California cocaine.
Sometimes you’re the only one who knows I cried that day.
You see the clockwork of vitamins,
the inconsistency of flossing,
the toenails, the toothbrush, the earring behind the toilet.
You are a mural of watercolor petals
with nonsensical dribbles to the next contour
and I just realized tonight,
brushing you off of my staticy arm –
that you have never scoffed at my weight.
Contrary, you try to hug my body in its most vulnerable form.
You have protected me from fights –
the way you harmonize with the temperature nozzles
and the shrieking shower head to make an argument inaudible
is pure magic.
You are among my favorite things
especially when you dance on a mowed lawn breeze
while I wash the green down the sink.
You really know how to make a girl feel at home.
The Joys of a Broken Down Car
I rode my bike in the perfect wind,
on the best downhill race through a childhood memory.
I braked for all the adult in me,
looked both ways,
then let the teenager who still resides in these bones grab her coffee and cigarettes.
We all made it to the park
with our bright red backpack,
with orthotics cushioning our heels,
with every ambition of being the greatest at something one day.
We made it to the park
to sit down and write.
Poetry by Jen Harris
Poet Jen Harris is a professional public speaker, spoken word poet, activist, published author, founder and former host of Kansas City Poetry Slam. Nationally recognized in the aforementioned, she works as an advocate to incorporate spoken word poetry as a form of peer-based mental health therapy. Harris recently completed a year-long writing residency through Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, moved to Denver, is finalizing two books, Lust & Disdain & Unconfirmed Certainties, was featured at Write About Now, Button Poetry, and presented at TEDxKU on Sept 30, 2017. www.poetjenharris.com