A Scandinavian Hotel in Couplets
Alexandra van de Kamp
I dreamt I was in a Scandinavian hotel in New York City.
The wallpaper was ruby and gold; the lamplight
gave off a 1930’s, Marlene-Dietrich glow. It was evening.
My father was calling for room service.
We were broke and couldn’t afford another night
in this establishment. The bellboy arrived and announced
Scandinavian guests were in the lobby, expecting
to have our room—the one with last resorts dripping
down its gold-embossed walls. How can a dream conjure up
a hotel like that? A hotel honey-glazed with the signatures
of who we are. Our body parts, for instance—how fond
I am of my hands when I think of them. Our family members.
My father willing to sip a cognac until the last moments
before surrender, before he must admit he’s outlived
his version of the moving pictures: Orson Welles puffing
on a cigar, pondering his underrated genius.
Or my sister, with her belly-dancer figure
and champagne breasts, jangling her bracelets, her
three-tiered wedding cake of second chances. New York
unfurled its dark flags and incense-filled mirrors
outside our windows, and my brother, paced— impatient
with our hesitation in a crisis. But what a voluptuous
panic, what a ripe indecision: me buoyed there, briefly,
with most of my family, as if we were on a cruise liner
of the subconscious—between shores, floating on
just who we were at that moment: our shoes
and haircuts, the damask glow of our skin;
the bellboy having recently left; the phone
dangling in my father’s hand.
Alexandra van de Kamp lives in Stony Brook, NY, with her husband and teaches at Stony Brook University. She has been previously published in journals such as: Court Green, Washington Square, River Styx, Meridian, Lake Effect, Arsenic Lobster, The Denver Quarterly, The Connecticut Review, 32Poems and Sentence. Work is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review. Her poetry has been featured on VerseDaily, and her first full-length collection of poems, The Park of Upside-Down Chairs, was published by CW Books (WordTech Press, 2010). Her most recent chapbook, Dear Jean Seberg (2011), won the 2010 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest. A collaborative prose poem called With was published by Firewheel Editions in 2013 and a new chapbook is forthcoming from Red Glass Books. You may see more of her poetry and prose at her website: alexandravandekamp.blogspot.com.