The artisans of this room, who designed the lamp base
(a huge red slug with a hole
where its heart should be) or chose this print
of a butterscotch sunset,
must have been abused in art class
as children, forced to fingerpaint
with a nose, or a tongue. To put this color
green–exhausted grave grass–to cinder blocks
takes an understanding of loneliness
and/or institutions that terrifies.
It would seem not smart to create
a color scheme in a motel room
that’s likely to cause impotence in men
and open sores in women,
but that’s what this puce bedspread
with its warty, ratty tufts could do. It complements
the towels, torn and holding awful secrets
like the sail on a life raft
loaded with blackened, half-eaten corpses . . .
I think I owned this desk once, I think
this chair is where I sat
with the Help Wanted ads spread and wobbling
before me as I looked for jobs
to lead me upward: to rooms
like this, in America, where I dreamed
I lived . . . Do I deprive tonight
the beautician and her lover,
a shower-head salesman, of this room?
He is so seldom in town.
I felt by their glance in the hallway
that my room, no. 17, means
something (don’t ask me to explain this) special
to them. Maybe they fell fiercely
into each other here for the first time,
maybe there was a passion preternatural. I’m glad
this room, so ugly, has known some love
at $19.00 double occupancy–
though not tonight, for a dollar fifty less.