Do Not Miss Schinzer
Miss Schinzer do not undress
they said but she did and so
they locked her in the side
room alone and she heard the
key turn in the lock and that
was that she heard them walk
away along the passage heard
the footsteps getting soft and
softer then silence the silence
of that abbey she went to some
years back as a child and the nun
with her beady eyes said here
one must absorb the silence here
silence is our food and drink and
she remembered the way nun
empathised the word silence
the way her lips moulded the word
as if it were brand new and not to
be damaged or spoilt but that was
then as a child before the voices
began before the orders were laid
out for her to obey do not undress
Miss Schinzer they had said but her
voices inside said undress take off
garment by garment and as you do
so think of Christ and how he was
disrobed and hammered to the wood
and she did hearing as she undressed
the hammer on nails the jacket and
then the blouse and then the brassiere
and she felt the chill about her breasts
how they stiffened she thought waiting
to remove more cloth waiting for the
voice to say undress more of the clothes
and she recalled how Mr Dimpledone had
said the same thing but she was a child
then a girl in the choir but she didn't ask
why she just undressed and he just stared
at her and said what are you doing child?
but you said so she said no no he said gruffly
be silent unless you want to leave the choir
but she didn't remember him saying that not
then but couldn't be sure and the voices said
take off the lower garments and so she removed
her skirt the black one the one that made her
look like a nun she took it off and then removed
her slip and underwear and sat on the floor quite
bare remembering the hanging Christ the hands
curled like crabs nailed to the cross beam his
naked flesh the wounds the blood and she lay
down flat and put out her arms forming a cross
and her legs tight together one foot touching
the other and over in the corner knitting and
humming some Schubert her bossed eyed mother.
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