TBI 7: The Cherry Tree Motel
The Cherry Tree Motel sits placidly beside the hospital
wearing a necklace of chain-smoking chambermaids
clustered by the back door day or night. Apron-wearing pigeons
they coo, huddle and peck around a lacy cast iron table,
centered with a crescent shaped ashtray, sixties remnant
overflowing with lipsticked cigarette butts, all clutching coffee cups.
Nervous motel guests smoke there too, backs to the painted wall,
arms folded like cigar store Indians, worry rising in smoky spirals.
The Cherry Tree Motel has a buzzing red and green neon sign.
This is not the place to send out-of-town wedding guests
celebrating beginnings and blendings next to the ambulance bay.
We are all residents in the ICU catch basin, family trout-in-waiting,
until we find out if we get to swim away or turn belly up, deadened
with grief and loss. Celebrations here are patched together things
made of the desperate need to believe it will be all right. We all peer
into doctors’ faces, wishing we could read what they are not saying.
The Cherry Tree Motel has two floors of hallways lined with brown doors.
Room 212 has a picture window looking down to cars parked
in slanted spaces, across to a brick wall and up to blue sky. Nightly,
the alley morphs to runway, line-of-sight for life flight helicopters,
their blades whop just above me, stirring up the dust below.
Sleepless, I hear them coming, purring like metal cats
until they are close enough to hear the blades’ syncopation,
engines dog whining, landing and shutting down to off load damaged cargo.
I lay in my room in the Cherry Tree Motel these September nights,
praying the copters in and waiting for my own miracle to come.
This motel was straight out of HP Lovecraft if HP was ever in Billings, Montana….