Jackson Hotel

By Lynda Hull 1954–1994 Lynda Hull
Sometimes after hours of wine I can almost see
   the night gliding in low off the harbor
      down the long avenues of shop windows

past mannequins, perfect in their gestures.
   I leave some water steaming on the gas ring
      and sometimes I can slip from my body,

almost find the single word to prevent evenings
   that absolve nothing, a winter lived alone
      and cold. Rooms where you somehow marry

the losses of strangers that tremble
   on the walls like the hands
      of the dancer next door, luminous

with Methedrine, she taps walls for hours
   murmuring about the silver she swears
      lines the building, the hallways

where each night drunks stammer their
   usual rosary until they come to rest
      beneath the tarnished numbers, the bulbs

that star each ceiling.
   I must tell you I am afraid to sit here
      losing myself to the hour’s slow erasure

until I know myself only by this cold weight,
   this hand on my lap, palm up.
      I want to still the dancer’s hands

in mine, to talk about forgiveness
   and what we leave behind—faces
      and cities, the small emergencies

of nights. I say nothing, but
   leaning on the sill, I watch her leave
      at that moment

when the first taxis start rolling
   to the lights of Chinatown, powered
      by sad and human desire. I watch her fade

down the street until she’s a smudge,
   violent in the circle of my breath. A figure
      so small I could cup her in my hands.

Lynda Hull, “Jackson Hotel” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2006 by the Estate of Lynda Hull. Used by permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: Collected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2006)

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Poet Lynda Hull 1954–1994

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lynda  Hull


Lynda Hull was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1954. Her collections include Ghost Money (1986), recipient of the Juniper Prize; Star Ledger (1991), which won the 1991 Carl Sandburg and 1990 Edwin Ford Piper awards; and The Only World: Poems, published posthumously in 1995 and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. In 2006, Graywolf Press published her Collected Poems, edited by her husband, David . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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