In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

The Hotel OneiraAugust Kleinzahler
Vol. 34 No. 6 · 22 March 2012

The Hotel Oneira

August Kleinzahler

402 words

That was heavy freight moved through last night,
and has been moving through since I’m back,
settled in again by the Hudson at the Hotel Oneira:
maps on the walls, shelves of blue and white Pelicans,
multiple editions of the one epistolary novel by K.,
the curios – my sediment, you might say, my spattle trail.

Look at them down there by the ferry slip,
the bridal party, organza, chiffon and lace, beside themselves,
being wonderful, desperately wonderful, a pastel foam.
Behind them a tug pushes a rusted barge upriver.
Helicopters, small planes, passenger jets above.
They behave, these girls, as if this is their last chance to be thus.

You can feel the rumble of the trains
vibrating up the steel of the hotel’s frame.
They move only very late at night, from three or so until dawn,
north along the river and then west.
There is going on just now a vast shifting of inventory
from the one place to another. I can feel it, inside my head.

I find myself going down there, late, behind the highway,
at the base of the cliffs, where the track runs.
Last night, what at first looked like a giant coelacanth
strapped to a flatbed rattled slowly past,
but it was merely the enfoldings of a tarp catching the streetlight.
I remember Uncle Istvan at the lake, unaccountably.

This has been going on quite a lot since I’m here.
How is it that I remember him? I saw him but the one time
and was a very small child, at that:
the madras Bermudas, the foreign, almost spastic gestures?
What is in those railcars is also inside my head,
or I imagine it so – no, not imagine, know.

How can one know such a thing with certainty? One knows.
Visitors come by my rooms.
The new one, black-haired Ileanna, I most hate to see go.
It is always when the lights first come on across the river,
late in summer, early in winter,
but always when the lights begin over there,

in the countless apartments, with their cloth napkins and vases.
At first, only the late afternoon sunlight,
glinting off windows as the sun lowers in the skies,
but not long after, that’s when the lights begin to come on;
that is when she gathers herself and leaves.
There is a story there, but one I choose not to know.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences