Wendy Carlisle The 2River View, 4.4 (Summer 2000)

In the Grand Hotel

A woman in red lace, in slingbacks, lets
one delicate crimson strap slide
down her humerus to the elbow and beyond,
opens her body, that book of joy,
and forgets for a moment all other hotels.

In this fable, a humane man fits his palm
to the ball of her shoulder.
Later, the woman does not know why,

when she wakes at three, the phrase in her head
is not a sign, does not give up its meaning
easily as names she heard that night

behind the bar. A woman is the sum
of all these parts, and morning when it comes
will rock forward into the day like an arm slipping free,
hold the threat of embrace, and still fit her
like a bone its socket, a hand on skin,
a hotel air conditioner humming impossible words.

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