the hero wakes in a white room by DS Maolalai

you’ve seen it before.
they say a lot of writers
begin with something like it,
because they are looking
at starting
off a white page,
and I believe them,
because most writers
are nothing
if not suggestible.

but in your case,
of course,
it is only because
the girl
has recently moved in
and has yet to unpack and decorate;
the windows don’t have blinds
and let in sunlight sun
which lands on your face like a baked cloth
and makes you hot in your sleep
and thirsty.

she is still asleep.
she’s sleeping off a hangover
and she will not speak in this story
because you will not wake her.
you are not that cruel.
you get up yourself instead
and go to the kitchen,
through an open door
and an empty hallway,
over an unmatted hardwood floor,
where you pour a coffeecup
with water,
rinse it out
and pour again.

and you drink from it
feeling the cold nothing
with your thumb hooked under the handle,
and then you look around,
see the pins in the paint
from the last tenant’s pictures,
see the whiter patches
where their shelves had stood,
their posters
and the spaces
for their vacant chairs and tables,
empty now
except for some scratches where they had sat.
all that is in the room
you see
are boxes
and bags
and you
and potential
and of course
this room
is also white.

and you finish the water in the cup,
wipe your mouth
and have a little more from the faucet,
and then you fill it again
before padding back and placing it on the table next to her
where she will reach out
to take it
when she wakes.

and then you wrap a t-shirt on your head
to guard against the damage of the sun,
walk around the bed,
get in
and go to sleep.



DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.