The origins of my mom cave

For the first year we lived in this house

The room at the top of the stairs

Was a dump space.

I wouldn’t even say “storage”

Because that implies some

Deliberation and


One day,

The kids discovered it,

And started nesting in there like

Wild voles

Among the piles of clothes and

Boxes of junk.

They would stash

Food under their t-shirts and

Close themselves in the windowless space

To snack and

Conspire in the

Pitch blackness,

Until one of them yelled they had been

Stepped on.

We would open the door,

And they would blink at us

And the offended party would pick his way

Through the clutter,


To the door,

And then everyone was kicked out for the day.

I came up with the idea of making it a sort of

Indoor tree house

For the kids.

I cleaned it out

(Crumpled pop cans,

Deflated bags of chips,

Empty Gogurt wrappers folded gutter-shaped,

Stray bits of candy rolling around —

It was a bandits’ lair I commandeered that day).

I laid down a patch of carpet,

And lugged all the toys up the stairs,

And organized them on shelves.

When I presented it to the kids the next day,

They were dismayed:

“But we liked it the way it was!”

It never really took off.

Every few weeks,

I would open the door and turn on the light,

And see that the toys were strewn about differently,

Or the Christmas lights I had strung up were falling down,

Or a bed pillow was left in the middle of the floor.

But I never saw them playing in there —

It was as if elves stole in at night and

Messed the room up.

So one day,

I grabbed it.

And now it’s mine.


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