a Room without Walls


Louise Heite Room
    Fine poetry and creative writing by Louise Heite


Walking the Dog on the Beach

Look at yourself! What a mess you are.
You're wet from nose to tail,
and that smile!--
all full of tongue and teeth. Having fun?
You're sweet even if you're filthy,

Do you know you're beautiful?
Ah, though. What's beauty to a dog?
You can't even see your color.
Caramel and wheat, for what it's worth,
but those mean nothing to your kind.
Nor golden, which is even less
a part of your reality. Gold--
a human construct if there ever were.

But you know what you smell like--
and me too. You can tell me
what I ate last night,
how long I slept,
when I last lay with a man,
and who he was,
and truth about myself
that I don't even know to ask.

Tell me how to ask it.

I can smell the sea, it's pungent.
If I think about it I can smell the town,
exhaust from cars and boats,
steam from factories, and trash,
but not the sheep that grazed here in the fall,
nor the rain that's coming in tonight,
nor the fish below the water,
nor my neighbors' longings,
nor the silence of the moss,
nor loss,
nor yesterday.

Things That Happen in the Night

The little town lies nestled in the mountains' arms,
at its best unlikely, with wildness all around,
and out beyond where the fjord turns east,
the wild, wicked sea.
Old Johann once said to me,
with his burning eyes and prophet's voice,
that the mountains know such secrets,
dark and wicked whisperings, that if I heard them,
it would make the blood stop beating in my veins.
"The night," he said, "knows no conscience
and the things that happen in the night
are the Devil's works."

The house is empty now,
lonely, grey, its shabby elegance
more shabby now than grand,
with plywood in its windows.
Out back the stable roof lies gaping.
No-one wants to live there now.
It's too cold, too old, to damp,
and the memory of one horrid night
some thirty years ago is still too fresh
for most to bear.

I myself don't know if it was winter
or if it was the pallid chilly summer,
or if the wind was still or storm,
but winter makes more sense,
when the tarry, seeping dark
works its way between the cells
into the soul.

Who knows what really happened?--
if it was the children, ten or twelve
in stairsteps every fifteen months
another, and the prices rising, and the cold,
eternal cold from before the ancient times,
the unending cold that rules this place -
or was it brennivin, the price of fish, the dark--
or just a mighty roaring chaos of the soul
which has been handed down from man to man
from the age when killing was a noble sport.

She lay sleeping in a room
which is a great bay window
surmounted by a crenolated wall,
jutting proudly streetwards, built to show
the passersby how grand its builder was,
but now just drafty, bleak, and cold,
almost too cold to sleep.

The knife plunged deep and often,
she could not have felt much pain
and the red, hot blood steamed in the chill,
running with the madness and the passion.
soaked the bedclothes--

He was sent away to jail
pitiful, a madman, where he died.
The children all dispersed.
Some went north to live with relatives,
and some went south to take up other lives,
a few stayed more or less together
for a while
and after a while some of them came back.

The woman with the haunted eyes
and sad, uncertain smile
does not remember much about that night
for she was just a little thing.
But she's afraid, so very much afraid,
of the seed that lies within her soul.

Watercolor Sketches

Gathering Mussels

That toothy wind! It bites,
it licks a cat's-tongue-coarse caress,
fish-breathed and wet. It brings its noise along.
It talks to rocks. It whispers salt.
Its fulsome springtime scent
of shingle-stones and foam
makes promises: beneath the heaps
of flaccid fronds still dressed in winter brown
lie mussels eking out their days,
succulent, encased in midnight.

The Creator at Work

A taste of acid in the air: acetyline, a hiss--
deep inside, a hammer,
hollow, heavy, hard--
A monster
with a canvas head and one square eye
grinds steel into stars,
defines the place
where sea-waves separate from sky,
wraps the world in metal--

Coffee Break

Plastic chair racked backwards,
orange formica, crumbs.
China coffee cups clack. Clink of spoons,
steam, sugar, stretch, stare, cream.
The ship will wait a little bit.
Men murmer with the slap of sea-sounds.
Waves well upwards from the bottoms of their words.
They talk this time of cod. The herrings came and went
and left the taste of money,
all too soon forgotten.


Darkness sucks the light into itself
holds it close, and like a miser,
parses out the daylight in halfpenny bits.

Painted noontime sunset sky
brings memories of gingersnaps and cider
in a place and time now very far away.

Move from the window.

At the door a peddler with a bag of fish
offers you the present
for a halfpenny slice of yesterday.

Snow on the Heath

Blue-white cold, and absence:
black rocks barely raise their heads
above the brightness and the dazzle
casting shadows that seem to have

more substance than reality itself.
Winter silence:  backlit sky.
The sun gone south,
its light vaults over the horizon
and the only sound, your steps
that whistle through the crusted snow.

The Dipper

Black, flat patch: the fjord,
the night-time rhythm,
lapping sound of spent sea-waves.
Across the way a massed white mountain broods.
Beneath its winter wrap it sleeps,
dangling its toes.
Above, the Dipper shines,
filled to overflowing with the black
that was all there was, in that eternity
before there was chaos, and stars.


Six o'clock.
Out beyond the mountain to the west
the sun hangs onto the horizon,
stops to stretch the day a little bit,
while seawards to the east,
the rising night climbs up the fading sky,
claiming heaven for her own.
In a sleeping dress of shadow blue
lies the valley, still and quiet,
contemplating nothing.
Works in this Room copyright © 2001 by Louise Heite


Copyright © 1995-2001 Ted Warnell. All Rights Reserved