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Hotel Death
By Francesca French

In one of the rooms—
I did not know which—
a Kennedy OD’d before my time.

On breaks, between
serving to the left, clearing
from the right, I smoked.
As many coffin nails as I could fit in.
Wandering only the areas
we were allowed to go.
Wondering which room it was.

Thinking of how he tipped
the balance between life and death,
gave that one little push through the swinging door
that breaks the light in the eyes,
and drops you full, like a tray,
no server’s hands beneath it.

The hotel grew into my brain:
clouds of dying dish steam,
the urgent smell of burning sugar,
summer breathing down the necks
of delivery entrances.

The backs of things was what I learned to know,
and stopped caring
which room
held the leftover death,

and didn't make buckets of tips,
but did learn details
I still use today: Never
clear a soup bowl
with the spoon still in it.



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