Hotel Bar

J.D. McClatchy

The saxophonist winds up ‘My Romance’,
the song with a scar. In the red lacquer ceiling,
the night’s raw throat, I can just make out
lampshades the colour of a smoker’s breath.
One is at our table. Across sits a woman
in tiny furs from before the war, the mouth
of one gnawing on the tail of the other,
like comets. A sudden brightness on stage,
a flaring spot, flashes on the nodding brass.
The little thud at a nova’s heart predicts
the gradual, dimming ebb and flow
of light – or love – soon enough burnt out,
remembered only as desire’s afterglow.
So which one has the room key? Neither of us
wants to guess what won’t ever be opened.
Something is found in a galactic pocket.
Something is left behind on a chair.
The elevator doors close soundlessly.
A constellation of numbers rises in order.
Again, the argument from design’s invoked.
Tomorrow we’ll get to go back over it all,
what’s partially false and almost always true,
as in: ‘My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.’