The room waiting for me

by Alice White

The room waiting for me is white.
It is not connected to any bathrooms or kitchens or pantries
or toilets or washing machines.
When I leave it, it does not change.
It is untouched until I return.
The window looks out onto trees and is slightly ajar.

This room is like the face of a stranger you trust on the tram.
On the table are notebooks, all sorts of comfortable pens and
some poems in the process of being re-read.
The wooden chair is slightly pulled back, at an angle.
The papers are not tidied away.
They are arranged purposefully in mid task.
And I will be back in time to remember what that task was.

This is a quiet room.
You can hear distant traffic, the wind in the trees,
the burble of magpies.

Something peculiar happens to time inside this room.
When you leave you are never sure if you’ve slipped
back to being a girl, already lived your life
or circled through it several times.
You have shed yourself of purpose.
You write and wander about in the neglected
carnivals of your mind and come out
having forgotten your best friend’s name
and the colour of your
children’s hair.


Alice White is an English teacher and leader in a government school in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where she also lives with her partner and two children. She was born in the UK and taught there for six years before moving with her partner to Melbourne in 1999. She has dual citizenship but is not planning to enter the Australian parliament. From 2001 to 2008 she had a range of poetry published in journals such as Blue Dog and Cordite and co-wrote a collection Heartstricken that was printed by Ginninderra Press. She went back to full time teaching in 2012 and since then has been a little quiet in the poetry world!