We saw them moving on the monitor
by the hostel lobby door, right where you
walk in. At first the night vision of the
security cameras blurred them to look

more like sunspots than people, trying hard
to stick themselves together like a kid
pushing play doh into the sand. We-drunk-
had just got in from the Cobblestone Pub.

There were six of us-maybe eight-digesting
the peak of early morning ifs, the will-
they-or-won’t-they? that makes television
series roll into a second season

and hands shake when perching on lower backs
and knee caps, waiting to be brushed away
like lint or silently accepted. When
we realized that there were three of them

rubbing, rising, shaking, everything
was still. We found ourselves focusing with
the silent and consumed intensity
of trying to remember last night’s dreams,

as though these travelers fucking in the
television room could tell us the deep
secrets about our childhoods, repressed
anxieties. We wondered to ourselves

if they knew about the security
cameras, the lobby monitor, the group
of blank-faced drunks making pilgrimage to
their blurry shrine of mouths and moving limbs.

Then two of us went to their room to kiss,
quiver, and I went to the kitchen for
some water from the tap. A Chilean
man stopped me by the door and nodded to

the screen. “We don’t have to know each other–
you and me– to be like the people
in the television room.” At first I laughed,
then saw his dusty anticipation

as though he were simply asking for a pair
of scissors he’d forgotten I’d borrowed
some months ago which the monitor had
reminded him about. I filled my glass.

In St. Steven’s Green the next day, I watched
a father cover his daughter in bread
pieces and then stand back as her body
slowly soaked in more and more birds.

Them crowding her shoulders and extended
arms, kissing crumbs off of their feet, made her
look for a moment just like a feathered
crucifix–holy, indiscernible.

Then it began to rain and they all flew
away– shaving off her briefly sacred skin.
She looked so naked. Naked in a way
that you can only look when you have been

worshipped. I wondered where the travelers
from the television room were today,
if they knew I saw them peeling off their
fingerprints–

melting together like
small snowflakes drying on a car exhaust.


 

Laura Van Slyke is a senior at Arizona State University, studying French and English, Creative Writing. Soon to be living in Lyon, France, Laura enjoys using poetry to explore her experiences with travel, love, and loss. She is currently working on a crown of sonnets which examines time, space, and music through a fictional friendship between David Bowie and Steven Hawking. You can find more of her poems in Scribendi and Lux, or on her blog, hard-english.tumblr.com

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