The Kitchen Wallpaper

Tammy Robacker


The design
deeply imprinted and

always close by, a sexuality
slithered: It lived underneath,

worm-bodied. It crawled
into everything I saw

in that house. My father,
careless in his underwear.

My mother obscuring her
ancient shame. An old mint

green bathrobe she tied tightly
around the waist.

In the rural décor
hung on the walls

of our kitchen: Brown country
cocks and rust-colored hens.

Natural farm animal
scenarios. They had no

boundaries with me. 
Sometimes the sex 

was a vulgarity and sometimes spice
jars appeared intermittently, 

seemingly harmless
in repeating patterns. 

But I studied
their doubleness 

of words, Nutmeg
Sage, and Dry Rub,

in permutations, 
to distract myself.

My own body a game
fowl being spatched

and cracking open
what the language meant.



Tammy Robacker is a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence, and graduated from the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Creative Writing, Poetry at Pacific Lutheran University (2016). She won the 2015 Keystone Chapbook Prize for her manuscript, 'R'. Her second poetry book, Villain Songs, is forthcoming with ELJ Editions in Winter 2017. Tammy published her first collection of poetry, The Vicissitudes, in 2009 (Pearle Publications) with a generous TAIP grant award for poetry. Tammy's poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in Alyss, Lumen, FRiGG, Tinderbox, Menacing Hedge, Chiron Review, Duende, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, WomenArts, and many more. Tammy was born in Germany, raised in Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Oregon with her fiance. Visit the poet:

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