White Walls

My mother looks beautiful
As she wipes down long lengths of
Cold marble with glass cleaner.
She smiles as she dusts underneath
Picture frames of sunburnt,
Blue-eyed, blond-haired children
Building sandcastles a thousand summers ago.
She knows this house so well,
She knows exactly where to cross
On its creaky waxed wooden floors
As not to make a sound as she steps,
The only sound is the swish of her mop.
She scrubs the insides of their oven
With her dry cracked hands
On her feeble God-fearing knees
As I do their dishes.
Making sure to speak
In our native tongue,
She tells me what she would’ve done differently;
Peach walls, not eggshell;
Suede, not Italian.
Cristo and the last supper and
Arroz efeijão, not mac ’n’ cheese.
The constant in and out of our family,
Neighbors, and people we’ve never met
But welcome with open hearts anyway
Because we understand the lonely,
A cold bed, and a foreign country.
Less space on white walls; more family.