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THE MEMORY PALACE/Colin Hamilton for there is no place that does not see you. —Rilke THE DOORKNOB extends a hand in greeting. Like your hand, it's scarred. When you shake it, you know: someone with small teeth has been trying to get out. THE DOG beats time against the wall: thump-thump-thump-thump. She needs you to see past her wet, dark gums, past her tongue to the place where these hot, scented storms are brewing. Your eyes aren't windows after all. No matter how close she pants, they don't steam up. The Missouri Review · 254 THE JAR filled with seashells sits in a corner. Sand dusts the inside of the jar, but who can say whether sand is becoming glass or glass becoming sand? Past the sand are shells, each perfect and the same: polished, slit cylinders speckled black and brown. When you uncork the jar, the sound of waves doesn't drown the house, but fireflies dim beside your bed. THE LIGHT doesn't shatter the window, but takes its form, tunneling through the room to cut a brilliant patch of carpet. Ten billion particles of dust, of skin inhabit the light, yet this far end of the sun, cast before your feet, burns unspeckled. THE SADDLEBAG is too rough for this couch. Woolen strands arch out from its stitch and finger through your shirt. You'd need a camel's back, a mule's indifference, to lie against this bag in peace. You'd have to fill it instead with rice or wheat, then open this room into a mountainy desert. The only water would be the small well inside you. Colin Hamilton The Missouri Review · 255 THE KITCHEN TABLE A circle divided in half, like a flat world with a single river. This is winter: the river is frozen, the wood is covered in ice and there is nothing to eat. Dust has collected inside the sun, which hangs from the sky by a cord. A long time ago, the moon rolled off the far edge of the world. . THE CLOCK This much you can bear: each thing has its duration. Each second strikes at the sky. Each hour unwinds the last. What's harder is to know that at six-fifteen your teeth will loosen. If it is ever ten o'clock, your family won't come home. At midnight, the darkness will speak. THE MASK Because nostrils can only flare so wide, small worms have bored gaping pores across his cheeks and nose. They take everything in. His brow furrows, funneling whatever approaches into his eyes. What does he see which reddens his face? He can't say, for his jaw's been broken. It drops straight down, drawing its tongue to hang, to lap, to thicken with dust. 256 · The Missouri Review Colin Hamilton THE BOOKSHELVES line three of the room's five walls; the others are doors. This is the quietest room, for the shelves with their books form another layer of wall and the doors are shut. This is where you wait. Dante waits too, inside a glass case. Legs straight, his arms in line with those of the chair, he could wait forever. Inside the shelves, books are packed densely together, their mouths clamped shut. THE CLOSET DOOR shuts, and color escapes from the jackets and shirts which hang along the rack. Like people who've lost the thing that lets them see, they stand very still and listen. When they hear you move, their awkward arms grope over you, cotton and wool. Ignore them. Inside the closet is another closet: that's the darkest chapel there is. THE SISTER speaks to the cat in French. The cat, drugged with sun, her face like a flower, listens. If you had slept in the sun, if your face were a flower, would you understand? If your eyes were that large, hair that black, skin so dark, would you say the same things? 257 · The Missouri Review Colin Hamilton THE BATHTUB is too white: only a pearl diver would believe it, or the oyster herself. And smooth, as though that rough pearl had been passed from nervous...


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