The Green Hotel
BY MATTHEW THORBURN
These rain-faded, corrugated iron houses—
bleachy pink and blue, that iodine
red, oxidized umber—look like Paul Klee
got lost and flew north, or Aix-en-Provence
picked up sticks and left Provence.
From our perch in the church steeple
we can look right down sleepy Vitastigur,
the narrow houses lined up like matchboxes
all the way to the gray harbor, the five
out-of-service black whaling ships
with the red H stenciled on their funnels,
a yellow helicopter buzzing off
towards the water. Lily, is that
Mount Esja over there, nearly lost now
in the blue-gray mist? (I saw it earlier
in the Rough Guide.) Look, there’s Lake Tjörnin
like a torn sheet of foil, and down there—
that’s our green hotel, where we stood
last night on the balcony looking out
at nothing much. No skyline to speak of
but an alley, laughter from an open door,
a glittery trickle of water along the cobbles—
just around the corner from that string
of bars lit with strings of yellow lights
where we found a quick bite to eat
when we realized it was nearly midnight.
We’ve left the familiar behind—far
from home, newly married—awake now
for twenty-seven hours and falling in love
with a country that never gets dark.
Matthew Thorburn's new book of poems is Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012).