The Hotel

Cash, the sloe-eyed night-student wanted.
The walls were cardboard, the pillows pulp,
and the bathroom a plastic all-in-one,
the kind they fit on oil-rigs:

a knocking shop, and already home.
The ceiling blossomed with shadow,
the walls were bushes they pushed through
to their place of rest, fragrant with juniper.

God’s ripe fruit: no matter how
they ate or drank it was not enough.
The wind whipped and stripped every leaf,
and they clung, two animals in a gale.

Something of them would always be there
now among the sinners and whores; even
when they’d torn that cheap place down,
and nothing was left but the air.

Henry Shukman


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