This Must Be the Place: Home With an Expiration Date

Photo by Luca Girodon

Home feels sticky when it is never fully yours. 

Two corrosive Command strips chewing the wall 
a ribbon beneath the radiator
and three plastic buttons rolling in the bedside drawer.

Remnants of another
colluding, accidentally,
to resist
any singular ownership of this space. 

You are living where others have been immortalized. 

The child that is yourself
tacks up forty-seven
posters, presses some grand flag 
of the prideful variety above the mantle, 
strings drooping string lights
to illuminate the reflection
of who 
you believe 
you might be 

Your inevitable departure will be hurried, 
you will struggle 
with this newly old identity
required to 
disassemble it
and heave it into a box. 

You have an obligation to leave each year of your life behind.

How many times should you look back 
when you see this home
for the last time? 

To sit with the expired space 
and memory of a room 
that was brighter, fuller, 

To confront that unrelenting stain,  
your careless misstep commemorated
on the hardwood floor.

Did you inhabit this space? 
Did this space inhabit you? 

You exist forever within a memorial to the collective. 
This room holds pieces of yourself you will not see. 

Photos by Whitney Toutenhoofd TC ’25

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