Literature 6-23-2010

mnLIT Original: “Midway Motel” and “The End of the Affair”

"Midway Motel" and "The End of the Affair" are new poems by one of's 2009 What Light grand prize-winners, Greg Watson. The poetry is accompanied by a curated selection of work drawn from's vast database of artists.


Midway Motel

You might find yourself here unexpectedly, with neither direction nor
intent. Say you are just passing through, no fixed address, and the less
you say about where you’re from the more at ease others seem to be.
Say your wife found the letter you had intended for the eyes of another,
or that other received the words intended for no one. Now you lie in the
in-between, locked out of that other part of yourself. Down the hall you
can hear coughing, muffled conversations from TV screens, the clack-
clacking of typewriter keys like tiny gunshots echoing. You lie in a bed
worn down by others, the desire of others, green-gray light from the
freeway below framing the edges of windows and doors. Sipping
lukewarm beer at three in the morning, you wonder where it all went;
and who or what it might be heading toward now.


The End of the Affair

She was too far gone to drive, but drove

just the same, as you did often in

those days, an hour past closing time, down

the smooth white shoulders of Summit Avenue

in winter, pale blue lights pulsing

from the spines and windows of stately houses,

and the dark formations of trees on

either side guarding what you could not know,

then or now; and on the radio a soul singer

long since departed from this world

pleading in the cracked tones

of the desperately young for his lover

not to go — and for that moment you were both

with him. Yet already your voices were becoming distant,

echoing in rooms not yet entered; already

your bodies had mapped their secret memories

beyond the reach of words, beyond

even the hardened inclinations of stars,

the chill-gray moon glinting like a splintered

coin on a night that would let you go

more easily than either of you could ever

have imagined.


About the poet: Greg Watson‘s poetry has appeared in numerous literary reviews, including The Seattle Review, Tulane Review, and Poetry East, as well as Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent collections are Things You Will Never See Again and The Distance Between Two Hands, both published by March Street Press. A new book, Not Elsewhere, But Here, will be published later this year.

Don’t miss the related slideshow of visual art by Minnesota artists at the top of the page. Each work was handpicked specifically to accompany this poem.

______________________________________________________ is a joint project of the Walker Art Center and the McKnight Foundation

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