First impression of a hasty once-over. Of universal
solvent and under-the-bed. An atmosphere both
apologetic and hostile, orphaned
amenities procured at clearance, curtains synthetic
and religious in their weight and ability
to absorb guilt. A thriving ecosystem’s residents
stared from fringes of the textiles, the debased
baseboards, and would grow bold. A doorknob
came off in my hand like a joke prosthetic.
Rooms like this have followed me around
for 20 years. It’s as though I married into a bad
family of many cousins. I was the only one
who loved them. That’s what I thought.
Even as a family steakhouse vented its cruel exhaust
across my threshold, even in the resurrected mystery
of how the moths get in –
by morning they’d hung themselves everywhere
like little coats by their own hooks –
I was at peace in the luxury of all that lack of care.
It was a skill, like tying knots. When all else
had gone, it would be there. Blame
for the propane explosion that destroyed the east wing
of the Monte Vista Motel, rendering it only slightly
less habitable, though not registered
in the paperwork, remains, a secret
crouched in the rebuild. In cinder block and flat tarred
roof it rose again, innocent, under the same name, as if
what could accrue had yet to do so. Don’t
send me back out there again. That final night
in Salmon Arm, maybe Wainwright, Shaunavon or
The Sault, wherever it was the last built-in fell out,
or the fold-out fell in, I thought of you then.