Another ice palace, Another demi-
paradise where all desires
are named and thus created,
and then almost satisfied. Hotel
might be an accurate label.
Not made of glass and marzipan
and steel, and jewel-toned water,
and opal gelatin that glows
like phosphorescent deep-sea fish, as
you might think at first. But no,
it's only dreams, it's only
clouds of breath formed into
words: the heavenly bed, the all-
you-can-eat breakfast. Invisible hands
bring food, smooth down
the sheets, turn on the lights,
cause violins to lullaby
the sugared air, clean out the wad of hair
you left in the porcelain shower,
and place a rose on your pillow
when you're not there. Where
is the fearful beast who runs the show
and longs for kisses?
Where are the bodies that were once
attached to all those hands?
Backstage it's always carnage.
Red petals on the floor.
You hope they're petals. Don't unlock
the one forbidden door,
the one inscribed
Staff Only. Do not look
in the last and smallest room, oh
dearest, do not look.
- Margaret Atwood