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between us, a plastic box of blunted crayons, no paper on the table; the air was empty of animal sounds. When I looked again the children’s hair had started to fall out in clumps, skin puckering like old balloons. Shown in, at last, the rooms were being dismantled and I knew then like a trip of flame, a spark from an ignition, we’d forgotten dates we’d meant to keep before. Now everywhere was being emptied:

files and boxes balanced on the grubby office chairs. And I think of them now, how sorry we were, the old men, and the children, the door propped like a garden door we had left open, once before, through which we could not really leave, despite the urge to run.

Deryn Rees-Jones

Deryn Rees-Jones is a poet and critic. Her book of poems Erato was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in 2019. She is the author of Paula Rego: The Art of Story (Thames & Hudson 2019).


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