Listen to Lynn Emanuel reading this poem. Remember it was early—we were still in the dark slots of the narrow beds, the room twitching and burning from an all night tv—then voices—almost lively—
for this place, I think, unsheathing myself from the damp
bedding to the cool and cluttered eight-story commotion—a burn
of sound, those voices, a Braille of noise.
I can’t remember what broke the wash of listening,
what turned it (like a boat steered hard into its own wake) into sight:
one or two floors below us, an answer to your question—
you are up and beside me now—what is that? was dragged by—
window, wall, window, wall—locked in the arms of two men
and trying to bite her way out of their official embrace.
Did I mention—leaning out—now—to put themselves into the courtyard
where a spill of images lengthened the view, we stared
into the hall of our hotel, along which a woman
in a nightgown was dragged screaming
like something metal opening against its will,
and their voices trailed behind to scuff out the meanings
her screaming broke open in the air.
We saw her, then she was disappeared by wall, we saw her
naked feet skidding on the stone floor. Wind blew this way and that
in the immense eight-storied courtyard. And these two facts:
her gown was almost torn from her and that we stood staring—
what could be done—there had been trouble, we knew, betrayals.
Who was to say she was innocent.