I didn’t belong there anymore—
the city made that clear.
The stones excluded me.
Even the rain laid no welcoming
hand on my shoulder.

The hotel in Dominick Street alone
had any clear notion
who I might be, with my wounded
luggage and eyes. Only it and I
would own up.

I must have chosen it, now I look
back, for the bleak
views from its fire escapes;
and the night I lay unsleeping in 105
till the hotel sprang awake

to a clatter of crockery and the clear message
of bacon and porridge.
Or that week adrift in 208
back in nineteen ninety-something
that can go unrecorded.

The room decor, all pastels and flounce,
I had seen when its chintz
was fresh. Now it exhaled
staleness and coalsmoke and end-of-
weekend angst.

Who was I to come back in this kind of mood?
my room key queried.
Who did I think I was,
anyway? The stain on the carpet

Richard Tillinghast

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 21 Number 2, on page 35
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