Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Hotel Heart

by Marianne MacRae

Our room overlooking the city.
Perhaps there ought to be more on the floor:
stockings, our coats, a gold ring.
The newspaper you bought as we met in the foyer,
silent in the lift; acting out the parts of strangers.
Your hair is thicker since last time;
I can feel another woman's hands through it.
You're wearing a new shirt.
Did she choose it?
Maybe I’ll pull a button from it afterwards,
while you're showering off.
I could bring it next time
and take your thanks like the willing mutt
I’m becoming in your gaze.

A scent clings to the back 
of my hand like a thousand buds
crackling into bloom:
sugar and cinnamon, milk,
sticky and thick, the taste
of your mouth when I kissed it.
There are eyes all over your body
watching me as you touch.
Everybody must know; my lipstick is a thin disguise.
Do you care at all, my hotel heart?

The cool peach of the low watt bulb,
an alkaline sunset to this fading day,
indicates it's time to leave.
We mumble something about “soon”.
A short blast of perfume to confine you
to this space we've shared.
I'll leave first.

Added: 18.03.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


It awakens the imagination and stirs an inquisitiveness


visceral and poignant, felt very real.


very effective, taut language; the cool peach line is brilliant.


The atmosphere that is created through the small details and the then the unfinished nature of it all is very good