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HOSTELRIES/Roterí Gibb Awake, take up thy bed, and go into thine house —Matthew 9:6 1. HOTEL GREENWICH, 1966 Bleeker Street. Our first day in the city And rain has driven us in from the benches In Washington Square where we'd thought to spend The night, sleeping with our suitcases. A "deluxe" room each, running $2.98, For which you got a sink To shoot up in or to wash the stink From your face, a door that locked, and enough space Between the cot and wall for a wooden Chair on which to pile your clothes. That is if you were willing to shed them In the first place and slip between the folds Of those blankets, olive drab and rent By larvae, the cast-like ashes from cigarettes. 2. DRAKE HOTEL, 1973 Amherst, late afternoon, the bar at the Drake Empty except for the drunk beside us, His bottle of Tabasco and stoppered cane. "Hey, five pounds of goat shit," he cusses, Louder now the second time, "Carry me back To my room." And for some reason we comply, Around the bar where the empties are stacked And the corridor ends in a sea-green sty. Light in the filmy window at 40 watts. And overhead, tacked along the ceiling, The Missouri Review · 52 Fly-strips unspooling like peeling Paint. A canister of Raid kicked under the cot. We drop him, still ranting, at the end of his ride. The floor is sticky with insecticide. 3. HOWARD JOHNSON'S, 1991 Pittsburgh, 4:00 A.M., the old hives of terror Having taken hold, I awake again, Alone in the dark of the city I grew up in And no closer, it would seem, to home. Sleep, they say, is always the first casualty. I'll be stranded for hours, watching the bleak Sodium corridors of the arcLamps fade below me, like channels on TV. Night watch and night sweats. A steady state Of blizzards that won't let up till dawn When the reruns give way, the reedy psalms Dissolve into static and a new day. I click the switch and see my face, a day-moon, Ghostly, near-transparent, there on the tube. Robert Gibb The Missouri Review · 53 ELEGY FOR LOST WATERS/Robert Gibb Because I am the same age my mother was The night she woke to the darkness And told my father, Call the priest, I'm dying, I look again into my palms and try to read A past which is so many dead ends And broken lines, the grain checked through Their seams. Because I was still a bundle Of milk and bone, chrisomed In the incubator when she was lowered into The earth, I unfacet the map and smooth it On the table before me like a cloth, Reading off the names of streets and the way They cluster toward her, buried in the center Of their maze. Now that the years Have also gone back into air and water, I drive again through Homestead, writing Down what's vanished in the pages Of the book tucked in my breast pocket. I take up her photos and stare at flesh Lying ghostly behind my own, Pearls banked as the lamps I've imagined Hooding that bright, hubbed room When they hauled me from her currentsA scalpel like a sleek fish slicing me from The thrumming of the only blood I knew. I'd like to again drift downwards, As if swimming at night, leaving the maze The Missouri Review · 54 And pages, pearls in their clusters Uke roe. Td like to pass once more among The dark braids rilling in those waters, My body pale as milt. When she spilled open, Hayed on the table below me, I'd been pried through layers to find My voice in a cold room buzzing with Ught. And have carried the world As no one before her could, and would Arrange my past as carefuUy as the bones In her even face. Out of one life, One death—the terrible exchanges. Robert Gibb The Missouri Review · 55 HRST VISIT TO MY MOTHER'S GRAVE, NORTH SIDE CATHOLIC CEMETERY/ Robert Gibb How are...


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