Latch and Blade

I recalled that Doris Lessing wrote
a story about Room Nineteen in a hotel
where a woman went to find
freedom, to write, then to die.

When we rented Room Nineteen of our own,
at the Sussex County Motor Inn, it felt
like a place one might go to die,
but not by choice.

We checked in late, out of desperation,
finding the only room open for miles
that stormy August night. We paid
in cash, and then I prayed.

You slept soundly beside me, but
your open knife beside you, at the ready
for the first creak of door, left my ears fear-
piqued for sound of latch and blade

all night long, as I thought of bedbugs,
breathed in the stale smoke of the spent butts
extinguished on the stained bedspread
by long-gone guests, and lay stock-still

in my cocoon of hoodie and sweats
shielded from foul sheets yet sleepless,
petrified that in your sleep, I might be
mistaken for intruder at the door.

Ann E. Wallace writes of life with illness, motherhood, and other everyday realities. Her poetry collection Counting by Sevens is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Publishing. Her work, recently published in journals such as Blood Sugar Poetry, Wordgathering, The Literary Nest, as well as Eunoia Review, can be found on her website. She lives in Jersey City, NJ, and is on Twitter @annwlace409.

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