In an Old Hotel


In for the night I empty my pockets,
gallery stub, train card, what’s left of all my 20s,
and the crushed bloom—Who placed it
in my hand, was she a new immigrant, or
a hedgefund girl who walked into my 23rd Street
daydream and said “Eat the body of this flower”—
What is this spiky beauty, a tiny sister
to the giant pine cone pillaged for the Vatican
that Dante snarled into an enemy’s prickly face?
Cone scepter in the hand of an Egyptian queen?
Maybe it’s arrived
from home and the carnival of daisy-stars in our yard—
fleabane or aster or the great purplehead itself,
echinacea spinning its seed stories of the Lenape
healers who practiced its three dozen uses.
Tincture w/ goldenseal is my cold cure.
The little cone funnels me into solitude in this old hotel,
eating hours, chewing them to delicious powder,
into good work—like good hash, made by hand,
sieves, scissors. Emperor Shen Nung doled out hash
for beriberi, “female weakness,” malaria, & absent
mindedness in 2737 BC. My sore eyes &
crooked Baci fingers ease while I smoke
and sweeten my enemies, myself, in my room’s
unfinished wall repair, a fresco-
field I dream on while adjusting the brass
screen to my pipe, pleasure in
handling this gift of kief, carving it into dusky
blonde curls. Strike the match again and enter
another country suffused with smoky texture
of my love’s kiss sending me off through the gate.