Hotel Grief

by Cheryl Moskowitz

Inside was like a tunnel – a long one at that –
the whole stretch of summer advanced it.
We were caught in its shadows while outside
the sun blazed, Mediterranean.
A vacation nonetheless, this is where
we wanted to be. Nowhere else existed.
We made the hospital our villa, languished
in the day room on blue plastic chairs,
treated ourselves to machine coffee
and vanilla ice cream in a tub
from the crêpe place across the road.
We knew we were special guests –
everything clung with a kind of specialness
and we wore the same clothes for days,
smelling of antiseptic just as if we’d
done nothing but lounge by the pool
doused in sunscreen and insect repellent.
No flies in here, and like the best holidays
day merged into night and night into day
while the heat wrapped us in its stillness
and there was nothing to do but be together.
There was a kind of bliss in her dying,
should I be ashamed of saying that?
The closeness that awfulness brings.
And I will miss that huddling, that being
together. The shrinking of the world outside
to a single fold-out bed at the foot of hers
where she lay tucked under a flat cotton
sheet crisp as an autumn morning.
The nurses danced their silent floor show
and the buzzing of the nebuliser
took the place of midnight chirping crickets
and all too soon it was over.
Even for the living the end of summer
is a kind of death so ours was a double
mourning and now I find I’m missing the hum
of 2am voices, the chattering of night staff,
the rattle of trolleys promising comfort
like room service in faraway hotels.
I could stay here again if I had to.