Park At Your Own Risk
A charming hotel in Kenora's thriving downtown
district the guide book reads, and the tattooed concierge
in the Iron Maiden tee-shirt will attest to this as he
tells us the noise from the band won't make it
to the third floor, but it's 9:00 on a Saturday night
and the windows are twitching. The finger-smears
on the upholstery, the phantom stains on the bed sheets
and the knuckle-marks in the walls are all the signs
we need to try someplace else, but the Shriners have taken
The Holiday Inn and the bird-watchers have occupied
Best Western, so now we are standing
at the check-in counter at Nancy’s Place
swatting at flying ants as tractor trailers hurl past
as baleful as comets. The elderly woman behind
the desk turns the pages of the local telephone
directory with the frail grace of a seer, I wonder,
she says, phone in hand, I wonder if Bill
has any vacancy tonight. Two ants, wings fidgeting
like fingers, crawl across her left shoulder and under
the neckline of her blouse. Nope, she says with eyes
that don't match the hope in her face. You might try Charlie's.
The drunk is angry.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE CLOSED?
IT'S FUCKIN' ONLY TEN O'CLOCK!
Charlie sighs and gestures at a bar devoid of glasses
bottles and stools and covered with sawdust.
We’ve been closed for two weeks now.
Can't you see?
I SEE A LOT OF THINGS, replies the drunk
SO FUCK YOU! He says. AND FUCK YOU, TOO!
to the middle-aged women behind the clerk’s desk
with a face as weathered as a smoke-house wall.
As she butts out her cigarette, however, and motions for us
to approach, scratching a long chipped nail
down the motel registry, she the Virgin Mother
of God. Room 323, she says, on the train side.
I misinterpret the last bit, as in "train" being the cart
which will bring us breakfast in the morning, served by
waiters in white flannel clothes. The thick, double-paned glass,
the two layers of doors, are but meaningless anomalies,
the inconsequential quirks of Charlie's mismanagement.
The moist carpet is the floor of a boreal forest
and the lumpy mattress a soft bed of moss where
I will lay my head and let the comets and meteorites
augur the windows and herald what warnings
they can, for I now, will sleep the sleep of the illiterate,
the ignorant, the blissful.
Femme allongée sur un canapé (Woman lying on a couch) -- Pablo Picasso