ā€œIt doesn’t matter what you know about the other places if you’re still trapped in the building.ā€

– David Lynch


My brother phones

and asks only

if I am in the next room.


I am in that room

and the room after that

and outside is a police station,


a bar, a hospital, a hotel.

Outside is a wind that wakes me

from dreaming my brother


calling me from the other room.

And the dream is so like a film

I forget that in this building there is a bedroom,


a bathroom, a kitchen presumably.

In my stirring all I expect to find

are corridors that connect


as a groin connects. And for months

I think about other places

as if I know them as I know my brother.


I think about the bars and even, at times,

the lines on the streets and once or twice

I believe I can depart the building


but I only find corridors ā€“ never the hard bush

of the hills or the wind of the valley.

And eventually I will forget other places:


the medicine store, the meat store, the windows of hair-cutters

and I will make an acceptance of here,

of the coins which have left circulation.


And on that day I will not dream my brother

but will speak to you of love for my building

and what I have burnt inside it to stay warm;


what fires I have made of myself and yourself

and the mattress we slept on, the pillow beneath

your back, your forgotten hairs and brushes


and I guess I shall forget you too and the night

when my brother phoned from a dream

and how on that night I knew you were no longer


in places I could even imagine and therefore

it didn’t matter or I didn’t matter and I want

a glass of water now and a hallway


that is not a groin

and a cat to cross my shadow and

there will be a day I’ll depart


to all that the world is, I will

walk from asylum like the Indian

in that film where he walks in white


to the end of the reel, towards a fog

which he may think

he believes he knows.


First published in Poetry New Zealand, 2012.