Motel Light

Did she tell us, her sweet illegitimates
bouncing double queens, she ran
this time for good? I don’t remember.
Down the corridor I carried moonlight
in an ice bucket, its cold steam swirling
into September. I filled it without asking
each time her gin ran low and sweat
into the nightstand branded with swirls
from other glasses. Drowsy, we clicked
the television knob until we found
a talking horse, that wholesome
absurdity. They smear peanut butter
on its gums, mother mumbled, laughing.
My sister giggled in the same high key.
I didn’t care they left the curtains open.
The oily lot flickering, the pool pitiful
as a bedpan were ours and no one’s,
unmapped. I sipped the melt’s sheen
gone, my mouth against plum smears
of lipstick, and watched until they slept.

The author sits outside on a log in a wooded area wearing a dark blue jacket and blue jeans.

Adam Tavel is the author of four books of poetry, including the forthcoming Sum Ledger (Measure Press, 2021). His most recent collection, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018).You can find him online at on Twitter at@fawnabyss

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