The impossibly wire-framed woman
with putty appendages pencil-thin lives to hide
in the walls of this Holiday Inn suite.
The night I spent I didn’t know she had
tucked away between the plaster spaces, vents,
wriggling under the carpet, now watching
those times when I swore aloud the same name
alone, curled dry on the leather love seat
that taunted me by its own and its length.
By chance, I woke up on that sofa and
saw her crossing in a sick slanted line
from the bathroom to the closet.
She froze as if freezing she would vanish.
But there she was – all real, an animal.
A first grader’s discarded stick-figure
eking out a dreadfully fevered rat life –
And all I could think, all I could think was
I wasn’t supposed to see this.
A naked noodle nanny with yellow skin,
broken teeth, oily bug hair, ageless, stale,
smelling like the lost wing of a cancer unit.
And then I knew
that I knew her.
Maybe she knows me.
That was probably why she ran away –
I pursued, grabbed, mindless likely snapped in two
her cold forearm like rotted celery.
I know you.
A deranged empty gasp coursed from her
to fill the sharp-angled maid-cleaned scene
of my ill-reserved Holiday Inn suite.
She drew me near and tortured her imp face
to frighten me, to push me far away,
rolling eyes, shaking lips, dirty jungle noise.
No ooga booga boo.
She was insane.
My face I tortured back, in hot anger,
in tired frustration, puffed red and numb,
still holding her near, our eyes stitched together.
I knew, I knew, I finally knew it.
I had been looking for her.
The room seemed to flood as I trembled, grip tight:
“I found you! I finally fucking found you!”
Does she know these words?
Does she understand them, even if
she’s lived all her life in the walls?
I knew her. I didn’t. But I knew that, too.
I had been looking in the back of my head.
For so long. I knew
That my life had always been lived
together with this impossibly
A knock on my door tore her from my hand.
She escaped, ran, after all that I gave.
All that voyeur time, an intimate game, lost.
Back behind the closet’s loose wainscot board.
Back into her cramped lime-lighted cloister
padded with pink insulation, plastic arteries and veins–
a hellish cotton candy Toulouse-Lautrec playground.
I never saw her again.
Weeks and weeks
Look behind the walls
I reserved that room
Until the woman at reception,
who was real, too,
I never saw her