Campbell Hall, the first time I met you I cried.
Your paint peeled in layered petals from sticky walls,
crumbling to death. Past midnight after settling in,
I taped photos of my family to your ceiling tiles
as an attempt to make you feel more like that,
like home, less broken sink and drafty door,
less stuffy air and moldy window sill.
I watched the seasons turn from that top bunk.
Sweaty summer, golden autumn, and then months
and months of endless white. We kept the fans
blowing constantly through knee-deep snow.
If air could be airless, that’s what you were:
oppressive and stifling, a prison of heat.
My photos could not stick to your facades.
I watched as they all fell, one by one,
leaves of memory collecting on the concrete floor.
220, you smell of mildew and winter sickness,
of Saturday mornings, someone burning muffins
in the kitchen next door. Of muffled music
playing through cardboard walls, of whispers
that somehow wake the whole world up.
Of no time like the present for being 18, then
too quickly 19, then old enough
to finally move on from you. And who knows
how much of me you’ll remember,
but I think I’ve decided to forget you for a while.
It’ll be hard, I know,
now that I know so much of you
and you of me. Your walls have numbered
all of my tears, each and every one,
from the moment my parents left for home
and I sobbed through the peephole,
wondering how to survive the year.
Now it is time to shut you away forever.
I just hope, friend of mine,
that you are as kind to the next one
as you were to me.
Keep her secrets,
her madness, her Scotch-taped photos
and unsleeping midnights. And of course,
(and you’ll have no problem
with this one, I’m sure)
Keep her warm through the winter.
Soon spring will come
and she, too, will hesitate at your entrance,
wondering just how to leave you behind,
how to exit the home you have become.