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THE ROOMS



Room 204

When entering the room you’ve already
crossed it in an arc completing itself
without your knowledge

                                      Footsteps tick digital
this foot
               that foot with no memory
while the mind sweeps analog through sound waves
bouncing off four walls

                                           This was the phrase you
remember
                  each note altering the last

this was its cadence falling from major
to minor
               willow over water where birds
chant in broken rivers

                                       It seems that you’re
addicted to this music however
hard you try not to listen to it

The bird sings with its fingers
                                                 Twice
                                                               The bird
sings with its fingers
                                   Twice
                                                 I repeat

 

Room 201

When entering the room he’s listening
for the two silences
                                  the one inside
and the one outside the window
                                                 still
air settled over plumbing and the vague
hush of wind or traffic the way they
fight each other in his ear

                                       If there’s a
third silence in the high-toned hum
of blood he’s paying no attention

                                                   Every
cell sings yesterday
                             the slow drowse
of numbers multiplying secretly
at his fingertips
                        every different room
the same and every sameness changed
where sleep undoes the hook
                                             unlocks
the eye that opens in the wall between us

 

Room 207

When entering the room you hesitate
                                                         you
mustn’t look back but you look back
                                                        which means
you’ll be dismembered in the old story
or turned to salt
  
                         Parts of you are folded
in panels of light that cut across the
bottle on the table

                               Starting again
and again
                reassembles the sequence

Repeat

            We drink from elliptical rims
while the sun that sinks behind the window
illuminates a note folded in two

All of these things are still happening in
the room
               which is a page torn from a
notebook
                no longer addressing itself
to anyone in particular

 

Room 35

When entering the room you walk over
to the window
                       but the light’s not coming
through
             it falls against brick and blocked exits
this is where nothing holds up
                                              Now you find
you are lost in a basement where there’s no
exchange only repetition
                                      hands caught
in waves of a body’s falling phrases
where we descend
                             mid-way through this life a
tangled wood
                      white skin etched against grey
                                                                    Look
at death always in a hurry
                                       Try to
move slowly now
                           say this in a language
you only partly understand
                                         Begin
the beautiful sentence you have chosen
without seeing how it will ever

 

Room 4036

When entering the room bathed in data
streams I flick a switch as glittering squares
cascade down the window from far above
the flyover
                 where shapes of workers move
in offices of light and figures glide
over screens in rapid unreadable
patterns
              You enter the room in pixels
now you’re breaking up
                                    there’s nothing more to
say you are leaving but I don’t know how
to leave this room
                            whose walls have suddenly
expanded
                I roam endlessly over
the chemical scent of new carpet that’s
drawing me to the exact location
of what I remember not happening

 

Room 131

When entering the room you’re holding a
key in your hand
                             a number in your head
that will be gone tomorrow
                                             Already
it’s too late for the pattern unfolding
through the edges of a music that was
thought
              it was the way we thought
                                                      the dripping
tap
           rain falling
                                 a rhythm we never
asked for but fell into
                                 never missing
a
           What was the number of yesterday’s
room
           This is yesterday’s key and today’s
is somewhere at the end of a pocket
that opens unfathomably
                                             as if
I could reach even the silence clanging
between hangers in the empty wardrobe

 

 

 

 

[Zoë Skoulding's recent poetry collections include Remains of a Future City (Seren, 2008). She is a lecturer in creative writing at Bangor University and editor of the international poetry quarterly, Poetry Wales.]

Copyright © 2012 by Zoë Skoulding, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.