In the hotel of unchanged sheets
strangers sleep together, one room,
having the same hungry nightmares,
some they do not wake up from,
sharing that same fear of morning,
the struggle of muscle and bone,
in the city they grew up in.
One old man wobbles down the block
up to a first floor walk-up.
The porch threatens to separate
from the house. He wonders
if this is the big wooden door that was
too heavy to open when he was little,
that is too heavy for him to open now.
Farther down the street,
apartment buildings have been renovated.
The park has a new name. The old man
isn’t sure it is the same pond,
the willow tree,
the same ducks.
The jungle gym and slide
are new, and the swings.
He knows he would become dizzy now,
swinging. He knows
the mothers huddled near one another
on the benches
are made uncomfortable by him.
Old man in torn clothes.
They won’t allow a vision
of one of their children
growing into him.
His visions when
he hung by his knees
from the old jungle gym
were of baseball cards,
that one Saturday at the Polo Grounds,
the arrival of the ice cream truck,
school, where he was math king,
and, of course,
climbing the willow tree.
Who would have imagined
these stained trousers,
shoes Goodwill won’t take,
the hotel of unchanged sheets?
B. Chelsea Adams received her MA from Hollins College in Creative Writing and English. Chapbooks of her poems have been published: Looking for a Landing by Sow’s Ear Press in 2000, Java Poems celebrating her addiction to coffee in 2007, and At Last Light by Finishing Line Press in 2012. Her stories and poems also have been published in numerous journals, including Poet Lore, Potato Eyes, Albany Review, Southwestern Review, California State Poetry Quarterly, Clinch Mountain Review, Union Street Review, Wind, Lucid Stone, Rhino, and the Alms House Press Sampler. She taught at Radford University for over 23 years.