Single Suite Free Verse

By building hotels,
we participate in an unusual practice;
we construct a four-walled structure
that allows us to escape.

In a hotel room, “not-staying” is where I need to be.
There – I stay in.
Others must stay out.
Because there is a sanctuary,
a sanctity, in “not-staying.”

Room 423 is where I decide to “not-stay.”
It’s the door near the middle,
teetering on a fissure between 421 and 425.
There I resolve to start my “stay-cation,”
to dissolve “lawyer,” “mother,” “wife,” “Westerner,”
to find a room fit for one.

Trudging to the fourth floor,
the well-worn ritual begins.
I rotate the room’s violet keycard in my hand.
One, two, three times.
Fourth for good luck.
The green light on the door flashes, sparks:
Enter.

In the walled place there are the standard items:
The slightly outdated TV that rests on
an aged-lined and wrinkled dresser.
In the corner – the desk that sheds loneliness,
accompanied by a cobbled-together rolly chair
that gives me a nod.
And next, the mini-fridge sits,
its black-mirrored skin waving a greeting with
a welcoming committee of tiny Heinekens
and “fun-size” chocolate chip cookies –
enough to feed Gulliver’s enemies.

I turn on the heat.
Then the air conditioning.
Cold and hot fronts hover and
in the lukewarm temperature I set my suitcase on the bed.
It’s an outlier on the bedspread
that reflects back the speak of my native tongue,
the maternal, Western, native tongue
I have to abandon in this hotel.
In this country
I’m away from the Best Western.

Here, in this room I think the walls know,
I will not stay.
That’s why Room 423 is so inviting –
it’s waiting for me to go.
I welcome it too in my “not-staying” state of mind.
The room knows its purpose,
and holds its intent in every corner
and instant of the room –
even in the treaded-on tan carpet,
that’s suspended above the third floor,
Above the chlorine-soaked pool,
Above the lobby.

Even the suitcase rack discerns
that this room is not quite home,
quite not home.
Instead, it’s a quiet room.
Only the hum of the air conditioning
I cranked a little too high
and the low murmur of the pipes.
The two cancel each other out
and speak volumes
so that in this room I’m rewarded
with the space in between, a freedom
and fact written
on my hotel rewards card.

My freedom,
my liberty travels to each wall
and behind a “Do Not Disturb” sign
I try on identities, semblances of me
draped on hotel hangers.
I wrap myself in one and discard others
until the embrace of a hotel me
settles on my skin.

Stepping out of Room 423 will only dissipate me.
The hotel me.
I chose to “not stay” by staying
in a place where
communication does not short circuit.
I do not want to disrupt
because in Room 423 the “dis” decides to separate.
Along the dresser and mini-fridge it reforms into
Disturb.
The peace.
Please do not
Disturb