Issue 4 Cover_final_web Poecology

Issue 4



Allison Davis


Night Portrait of Motel Clerk

North Lima, Ohio
Because a newspaper with hairy arms and practical shoes sprawls in the armchair behind
            the counter—
because a sign reads please ring for service and the complementary matchbooks: we doze
            but never close

because tonight, truckers all over the country aim their semis towards this clerk, this
            father asleep behind the Business section
and because the ones who wrote today’s edition have already written tomorrow’s—
because in his whiskey wagon unlicensed bottles dance on springs, a shot per room and a
            goodnight ladies—
because right off the Ohio turnpike the parking lot flowers butt-ends of cigarettes—
because he’s the great bearer of keys, the rack full of brass and room numbers, his mind
            the nerve-shot register and trucks still filthy with wilderness—
because in room 1 his family sleeps, his wife wed fearless to business, her value far
            beyond pearls, their children dreaming of rows of doorframes—
because the truckers don’t ring the call bell they mutter “Hey Bill—” delirious, eyes
            stoned light blue from all the sky, from freighting speed all across the green
because his mind divides evenly into twenty-two roomfuls of strangers—
because in this lobby one man’s sleep is as good as another’s

           he wakes in a tent of letters and realizes that night’s all around him—