Leaving the Empty Room


Leaving the Empty Room
Stephen Dunn

The door had a double lock,
and the joke was on me.
You might call it protection
against self, this joke,
and it wasn’t very funny:
I kept the door locked
in order to think twice.





The room itself: knickknacks,
chairs, and a couch,
the normal accoutrements.
And yet it was an empty room,
if you know what I mean.
I had a ticket in my head:
Anytime, it said, another joke.





How I wished I had a deadline
to leave the empty room,
or that the corridor outside
would show itself
to be a secret tunnel, perhaps
a winding path. Maybe I needed
a certain romance of departure
to kick in, as if I were waiting
for magic instead of courage,
or something else
I didn’t have. No doubt
you’re wondering if other people
inhabited the empty room.
Of course. What’s true emptiness
without other people?





I thought twice many times.
But when I left, I can’t say
I made a decision. I just followed
my body out the door,
one quick step after another,
even as the room started to fill
with what I’d been sure wasn’t there.


All photographs of New Hall, County Clare about which more next week.

14 comments on “Leaving the Empty Room

  1. Vibse says:

    What a lovely blog and what sad photos.

  2. jtjphelan says:

    I hope this house can be saved from dereliction, as those holes in the roof are very ominous looking indeed. Looking forward to the next article.

  3. saskia says:

    I love the pictures, they have an atmosphere of past glory. You can still feel the soul of the house and the people… Thank you!!

  4. Penny Perrick says:

    I didn’t expect that your wonderful blog would ever make me cry but Leaving the Empty Room did. What a moving poem and wonderful photographs, a bleakly beautiful combination.

  5. saskia43 says:

    I love the pictures, the soul of the house and its habitants is still visible…thank you.

  6. Shannon says:

    An absolutely wonderful piece! so much promise in those rooms for the right heart. (still praying on that group of winning numbers…)

  7. Simon Watson says:

    Dear Robert,
    A super posting. Your blog is wonderful. Very best regards,
    Simon Watson

  8. Judith Birkin (nee Hamilton) says:

    My 3 times great grandmother Henrietta Anne MacDonnell lived at New Hall before she married.
    How sad to see this beautiful house going to ruin.

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