Motel Baby

The moonwas it half?
Or full? Thumbnail or clouded over?

The cab that drove them to the outskirts of town.
The kind driver.

Car droning along. Mother right-front.
Daughter in back. In a blur of not-understanding.

Girl's first time in a motel. Ever.
Five dollars a night. Tiny room.

The mother checked her in. Then left.
The girl alone for the first time.

In her life. In the physical sense.
First bed alone. No phone.

Under orders to wait, go nowhere.
She waited. Went nowhere.

Chenille bedspread. Formica night stand.
Nothing fancy. Some bad cracks in the wall.

Funny smell from the rug. Night-table Bible.
Little bathroom. No clutter.

Everything alien
to her previous life.

She gave herself over. Hummed.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra. To the mirror.

Not to the child in her body.
Which she could not imagine.

What else could she do?
A girl who knew so little.

Knew nothing. She waited.
For her mother to come back.

With instructions. With food.
News from the outside.

On one visit the mother told her to make a dress.
For her sister. For the prom.

The mother brought material and a machine.
The girl saw that she was still something to her mother.

Turns out she made two dresses. One for the prom.
One for the sister's graduation.

A fair exchange for the secret rent.
It gave her something to do.

Pretty dresses. One midnight blue.
Sparked with bits of lace.

The other: white and full.
Shimmered as she handed it over.


Poems by Kathleen Lynch:

Chicken in the Snow
Motel Baby
Love: The Basics
How to Build an Owl
Only Trees
The Spirit of Things
Everyone in Your Dreams Is You

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets