Three Rooms


The front room, discontented, with its discontents crudely on display, refracted a family of three. I would insert my latch key into a lock as heavy as an ocean: one turn to the left, the door would allow its own visit to any visitor. It was a front room, a living room, for the living & half/living licking their own wounds alive.


You hear the private conversations of people inside your own family. I hear them as echoes of echoes swallowing the texture of time — time withheld from itself. The room is the one deleted from the cerebral cortex, the one malformed in an adolescent’s brain, the one unable to see pain through an abstract apparatus.


The room, with its outlines keeps us. It feels malleable, as though the people in it were dropped in by a fury or an unletting storm. The dust it collects inside its corners. The three people who have always inhabited this room are the contents. They create a culture. Meaning is on a shelf next to anxiety, next to shame & next to a single dream inside a multitude. This is the last gasp of imperialism.


Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in The Lake, Prelude, The RecluseThe Indianapolis Review and Spillway, and is forthcoming from Mantis. “The Roar at Wrigley Field” is featured in Small Orange: Anthology and was nominated for Best of the Net 2020. “Ode to Strunk and White” featured in Rabid Oak, was nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize.


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