The Cherry Tree Motel sits placidly beside the hospital
and wears a necklace of chain-smoking chambermaids
clustered by the back door day or night. Apron-wearing pigeons
that coo, huddle and peck around a lacy cast iron table
decorated with a crescent shaped ashtray, a pink sixties remnant
that overflows with lipsticked cigarette butts. Clutching coffee cups, they watch nervous motel guests who smoke there, backs to the painted wall, arms folded like cigar store Indians, their worry rising in smoke signals.
The Cherry Tree Motel has a buzzing red and green neon sign. I read that this is George Washington’s motel and he is proud of his lending library, revolutionary war books the sleepless can borrow. This is not the place to send your out-of-town wedding guests to celebrate beginnings and blendings next to the ambulance bay.
We reside 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, and the elevator has buttons for floors one, two and three.
Room 212 has a picture window looking down to cars parked
in slanted spaces and across to a brick wall and up to the blue Montana sky.
At night the alley morphs to runway, line-of-sight for life flight helicopters, their blades whopping just above me, stirring up the dust below. 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 their damaged cargo.
I lay in my room in the Cherry Tree Motel on sleepless September nights, praying the copters in and waiting for my own miracle to come.