White towels folded into swans
‡‡with their heads touching —
‡‡‡their hearted bodies trail
the floral bedspread: polyester,
‡‡used over and over again.
‡‡‡The bed itself casts a shadow
on the desolate paneling,
‡‡O bed. O motel. O girl
‡‡‡in white pants — you are voluminous
and shine like the yellow doors
‡‡on rows of identical love shacks
‡‡‡punctuated with all-weather
lawn-chairs out front.
‡‡Clouds ride past the pool,
‡‡‡faces of brick, the oil stains
on parking lot asphalt.
‡‡Did someone teach you
‡‡‡to park in a place like this,
between two white parallel
‡‡lines stretched like arms
‡‡‡saying, Come here? In the grass
behind the dumpster you lay
‡‡your head on his pale, shirtless
‡‡‡chest. On his skin, warm as
melted butter. It is the blue hour,
‡‡floating on quiet water, after
‡‡‡the sun sets, before it gets dark.
Love on damp pavement. Love
‡‡with sanitized glasses wrapped
‡‡‡in paper. Love in the violent mist.
In the velvet night. He kisses
‡‡the soles of your feet. O girl
‡‡‡in white. Be good and take care.
I haven’t fallen like that in a very long time.
Note: This poem is based on photographer Alec Soth’s photography project of the same name. Click here to view it.
Source: Indiana Review, vol. 32, issue 1 (summer 2010)
Also published in Meitner’s Copia, BOA Editions, 2014
Visit Erika Meitner ‘s website
Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Ideal Cities (HarperCollins,
2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; Copia (BOA Editions, 2014); and
Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book
Award in Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her sixth
book of poems, Useful Junk, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2022. Meitner’s poems
have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including Best
American Poetry, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times
Magazine, The New Republic, and Tin House. Other honors include fellowships from
MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the
Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and Blue Mountain Center. She was also the
2015 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney
Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast. Meitner is currently a professor of English
at Virginia Tech.