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Motel, Oregon

by Sophie Klahr

we’d rent the coastal room in an attempt
to say goodbye again as if        eros-
   ion could help us to undo what we had
done         again         we’d try to craft an ending

   eat cheap potato chips and cottage cheese
the way he did the year his mother died
cradling her gun         and the sound pushed him off-
shore...   each room        strangulation and harbor

   we tried      one day I’ll leave not you but all
this:      those rooms that had never been under
my name       the way I could run my hand in
              longing to conjure a body I knew

so well I thought it home.   where o?    we left
all that       we made our bed      and lied in it

“I will put Chaos into fourteen lines,” begins a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay. For five years, I had an affair with another writer, also a poet. In years since, writing sonnets has offered “a momentary stay against confusion,” as Frost suggests poems might. Engaging meter is a type of meditation, a psychic shelter. One’s history is embedded in the present, and when deep trauma is a piece of that history, the past can rule the present almost as if on puppet strings. Sometimes you can see the strings, and sometimes you can’t. It happened too that language would slip between us sometimes, a bright thread we each claimed—it happens here. Isn’t that a game show—Whose Line Is It Anyway? Motel rooms were rare for us, but it was mostly in these rooms that we’d try to break up. This poem is a missive from the other side of one of those doors. Willingness is the key.

Sophie Klahr is the author of Meet Me Here At Dawn (YesYes Books, 2016) and the chapbook _____ Versus Recovery. Her poetry appears in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, PloughsharesAGNI and other publications.