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

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.

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