In the new apartment, living alone for the first time
in years, you want to start fresh with the walls,
so you strip off the faded old wallpaper,
only to find another layer beneath,
another under that, & one more
for good measure.

It’s like peeling an onion one layer at a time
and slicing it into rings, each cut
of the knife releasing a spray
that stings your eyes.

It’s like taking off your coat, then your shirt & jeans,
then your underwear & socks, then your
skin, standing there like nothing
but meat & bone.

It’s like with each layer of wallpaper you pull away
another decade of your life, your forties & thirties,
your twenties & teens, & by the end you’re a kid
in the schoolyard playing marbles
in the dirt, waiting for someone
to walk by.