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The Missouri Review 29.3 (2006) 70-71

Ellen Hinsey
[About the Author]


This is a room that you cannot just enter. This is a room that is not empty. You must wait at the threshold. It was once a house, a schoolroom, a factory. Now there is no window glass, and the branches of the bare trees refuse to touch the sills. You must wait at the threshold. Inside, it is freezing. There are four walls, a wide crack in the plaster. The cement floor will never be repaired. It holds what imagination cannot. It was once a factory, a schoolroom, a house. What remains is evidence. What has been lost is evidence.This is a room you cannot just enter.


1. The body doesn't need much at the end. A bit of wood, a white cloth.
A small shelter for its passing.

2. Here, lined up head to head, and foot to foot, is life's inventory.
This one was a husband. This one was a brother. [End Page 70]

3. The white room is ablaze with a stunned wakefulness.
Forgive those who trespass against—

4. Don't stare at the faces doing their death-work.
It is a type of sacrilege . . .

5. Don't imagine the dead are at peace.
The dead are at your mercy.

6. And what is that silence which is not, could never be, mere silence?
This is a room that you cannot just enter.



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pp. 70-71
Launched on MUSE
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