Black Walls

Amber Norman

I used to be a housewife, the kind that lies to her husband with girdles and throws chunks of meatloaf at the back of his head. Hidden behind aprons and boxed mac and cheese, my true ingredients are lost. My opinions become prepackaged, censored with thick foundation that cakes around my smile lines like Betty Crocker. Just add water and watch me dissolve into a pale and uninspiring mixture of lumped disguise.

Wednesday is Pot Roast Night! It’s the only meal I make from scratch, except for the seasonings that come in a sachet. No one must know, so I will post “Organic!” online. Our wedding anniversary is coming up on the 4th of this month. Even though my husband hasn’t slept with me in twelve weeks, the filter on our photo needs to be just right. I’ve been keeping track of our enmity—there’s an app for that.

The self-help book that advises I squeeze my boobs twelve times a day to feel better about myself is collecting dust. I cannot connect with the bright-eyed woman with a New York Times Bestseller sticker covering half of her forehead. I feel no guarantees or credence, just familiar failure.

A frazzled woman, sitting alone and face down at her newly Cloroxed kitchen table, would be a much more convincing book cover. Perfectly poised gurus and postcard sunrises are reproduced symbols of ascension, but I just don’t want to feel that perfect.

I passed Home Economics. I can parent flour and boil the perfect egg. And I can muddle a cherry at the bottom of an Old Fashioned better than any broad on the cul-de-sac because my blood tastes like bourbon. Walls stained this black cannot be purified with Ajax and distilled vinegar. There is no alkaline diet for the acid inside.

I have a chemical imbalance. My cells are imposters, trapped in a singular dimension; even when penetrated, I feel nothing. The last I remember feeling anything was the squeeze of my mother’s vaginal walls, opening to let me breathe. Then she placed me in a lace embroidered bassinet on the other side of the room and told me not to be needy. Better Homes and Gardens never planted anything substantial.

My womb has been left unused by the man who demands I fuck his boss every quarter for promotions. All the mirrors in the house are broken, which is why my eyes cannot connect with the glistening guru lady who is trying to help me. All I see are two noses—two slanted realities. Conceal the depressed parts, and limit your admiration to my augmentations. I can only tend to my wounds in corners I can’t escape until the timer beeps: 25 Likes!

I change my mind—Inner beauty is for ugly people.


Amber Norman is a free-verse poet and creative nonfiction writer based in Orlando, FL. She uses narrative to explore the human psyche, particularly the struggles related to women. As a spoken word artist, she is a former member of the poetry troupe Black on Black Rhyme based in Tallahassee, FL. Currently, she favors obscure venues for performance. She fancies meditative journalling, espresso, and primitive camping.