The Ice Hotel

Matthew Sweeney

I’m going back to the ice hotel,
this time under a false name
as I need to stay there again.

I’ll stand in the entrance hall,
marvelling at this year’s design,
loving the way it can’t be the same

because ice melts and all here is ice –
the walls, the ceiling, the floor,
the seats in the lobby, the bed.

Not that I lay on naked ice,
but on the skins of reindeers,
piled high, as on a sled.

First, though, I went to the bar –
no beer, only vodka –
and I met my sculptor there,

or I should say, my ice sculptor
whose pieces were on display
in every room in the ice hotel,

and who told me his name was Thor.
We stood in that ice-blue light
swapping whisper after whisper,

drinking vodka after vodka
till we agreed to go to bed,
and neither of us slept that night.

Let me tell you about that bed –
ice pillars, two foot high,
each with a lit candle on top,

and wedged in the middle of each
the four corners of an ice sheet
three, maybe four, inches thick.

On this the pelts were laid,
then the Polar Survival bag
that the two of us climbed inside.

Next morning, over Arctic char,
he offered me any sculpture
but which could I take home?

And I didn’t want to go home
but I went. Now I’m going back –
back to the latest ice hotel

with its blue ice, its silence,
its flickering candlelight,
its sculptures I can claim.