Leaving the Empty Room

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

13 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

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