The Badlands

  In response to Edward Hopper’s painting Western Motel (1957).

She sat up on the new bed, against the new wall with the pleated drapes. The room (that sprouted with modern efficiency) was without cupboards, cabinets or a homely dresser. The window welcomed the curves of the western hills as company, but would not let her see the shadows in those badlands. The room, built for stuffed leather-suitcases and singular hung-up jackets could not contain her feet, hankering for open road, and her dress, yearning to be held.

Again, she, and everything she owned, prepared to leave for elsewhere.

There will be no bursting when she breaks the window. No shattered glass (or in this case, rippled canvas in the western winds) to pull the travelers along, only the hills keeping secrets from this temporary room. In the hills’ shadows, the unmemorable becomes reluctantly memorable, and the memory of the brief life in an unwrinkled room is the only one remaining.

She hopes for her bags to open, for her hand to scribble her name in sharp red ink on the walls, for her jacket to multiply and scatter, for the carpet to smell like her feet, for her car to rust to the earth, for the drapes to hide the creeping hills. But she stares for movement in the room. She hopes for her hand to release, hopes for it to remain.