HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.
Terrible coffee from the machine in the bathroom—
it’s too early for terrible coffee from the lobby.
I can write by the bathroom light
if I sit in this chair by the door.
John still sleeps.
All night I kept waking
and drifting off again trying to remember
the words to “The Highwayman,”
who kept morphing into Paul Revere.
Romantic figures on horseback—
one all fiction, one nearly so.
Revere did not ride into Concord, for example,
and he already knew they were coming by sea.
And there were two men in the North Church tower
sending the signal in case the riders didn’t make it.
But “The Somerset, British man of war” was real,
and when they rowed across the bay, they—
he was not alone in that boat— were afraid
they would be seen “just as the moon rose.”
The nameless highwayman, on the other hand—
well, the musket drives me crazy.
How could Bess reach the trigger if the musket
was beside her and her hands were behind her?
And wouldn’t the trigger be too close to the floor
for a woman “tied up to attention” to reach?
Maybe someone on some online forum
could explain, but I’d rather
think about that than a few other things
I can name, but won’t. In the meantime,
Will “the people” waken in this “hour
of darkness and peril and need”?
Or stand around “dumb as a dog”?
Except dogs are hardly ever dumb.