Hotel 4**** (221 Reviews)

The lawn immaculate as Mary
The Cedar of Lebanon adorns the garden
Gifts of shade and shelter beneath its boughs
Verandah a place of repose
Guests read piously in wicker chairs
The chapel home to a magnificent pipe organ
Through stained-glass windows
Pews reverentially curve around the high altar
A place of celebration and prayer
A modest Christian retreat

I had arrived late, ruck sack dusty
At this Internet-located
Recommended overnight stop
Where you had checked-in earlier
Met with an eye-brow of surprise
That two guests with different chromosome compositions
And un-familial surnames
Booked just one room
Albeit a room allocated in the annex
Not in the elegant mansion house

A room located past the pond
Through the back of the garden
Up creaky stairs to an improvised corridor
Above the old stable block
With steps that go up a quarter-flight
Then down a half-flight
Past the showers and wash rooms
With wooden doors like slatted gates
That do not reach the floor

Our room is interesting
Wall striped-paper
Dazzling light bulbs
A handbasin
A wall mirror that reflects from my chest down
Two small single beds with sheets and blankets
Yards apart
A retreat from the time of Dunkirk?
No continental comforts here

You laugh at my crest-fallen face
The room, the short beds
Your hearty response lifts my gloom
The only proper reaction to this
Pre-booked, no-refunds, high season
Imagined romantic rendezvous
That belies its online presence

We went to supper down the town
Where a street fight starts
Between two groups of over-heated youths
Brawling outside the open window of the restaurant
I call for assistance and follow the barman out
He breaks it up with a strong voice and local knowledge of names and faces
We have finished our meal before the police arrive

All is done and dusted, the street long-empty
When we walk back under the early summer blossoms
Beside a stream running in the stone gutter, between the path and road
We climb stairs, chuckles renewed at this place
Choose not to move the beds together
The night is too warm, we too full of dinner
We kick off blankets and sleep

Until woken by blinding sunlight and inquisitive wasps
Nested outside the window
And now exploring the room
Which also vibrates with the heavy throb of diesel engines from day-trip coaches
With their cigarette smoking drivers coughing and comparing tachograph notes in high volume above the rumbles
While they wait for passengers keen for a pilgrimage
To a local pagan shrine, like Stonehenge, Silbury, Avebury, or Glastonbury Tor
Or perhaps just the Cobb at Lyme Regis, then Weymouth for the beach

“Not so funny now, is it?” I suggest
You lift an eyelid, shift sleepily from your bed
Slide yourself under my sheet
And wiggle up close, laughing again
Pointing out that the mirror is now just the right height

.

n.b. www.napoiwrimo.net Day 28 prompt: bedroom.

Christopher Perry

28th April, 2020

Fingers and Thumbs

Three of us it took, and over an hour, to agree

That all the cows were where they ought be

How many could we see and count

Fifty six should have been the right amount

Browns and blacks and Devon Reds shifted

As we counted, those huge beasts drifted

Heavy silhouettes turned to solid shapes

They moved and merged, seemed to evaporate

What was one, then sprung two more cud dribbling heads

Then a brown one suddenly grew six legs

And stretched out long until it was two

And so we had to start the count anew

Up on the hillside we saw them clearly

And at last confirmed the tally

Each of us found fifty six

But wished we had known the farmer’s tricks

.

n.b. To count the herd when there is no one about to help, organise the cattle to pass through a gate into the fresh pasture one at a time, counting them as they go

.

Christopher Perry

21st April, 2020