A Hotel in Belgium
Brett Fletcher Lauer
A Stahlecker Series Selection
A Hotel in Belgium explores the emotional space between loyalty and skepticism. Here is a psyche preoccupied with both doubt and dread, but also a desire to surrender itself to the risks of love and trust. These smart, beautiful poems—often complicating their lyricism with formal rigor and adaptations of found texts—investigate the delicacy of human relationships and the hopeful relentlessness with which we pursue them. The voice of these poems is tender, imaginative and sometimes wry, building an urgent narrative of melancholy, self-doubt and the ultimate resilience of the spirit.
“A Home for Head Injuries,” from A Hotel in Belgium
Take me to a warm room and keep me
lying flat. Place a small pillow
beneath my injured head. My eyes
may eventually go blank, always when
most excited. They may begin losing
perspective: The sun is in my throat.
Please loosen the clothing around my neck.
I am beginning to see a dome of light.
It is a shrinking habitat. I might say:
My tongue weighs tons and is made of sulfur.
I might say: My tongue is mostly phosphorous,
my lashes carry salt. Where was I going?
I was heading in a direction. You know
how it must feel to make an admission.
It is easy to forgive. It is asked for. It is given.
Bring me back indoors, undress me, place me
in a bed and sponge my body freely
with seawater until my temperature drops.
I can get upset by the easiest of things:
blood near my eyes. The bleeding point
most likely in the lungs, stomach, or skull.
Until I become fully conscious prop me
on my side to keep airways open.
I am frightened. It is difficult to grieve.
I am thinking it is cold, it is only morning.
I am uneasy on land and water.
My head hurts and I am trying to explain
that each person has a partner on the opposite coast.
When the two partners find each other
they sit down together and wait by the sea.
Everything is calm, peaceful, and cold.
People are arriving to build a home
near the sea. The sea will be late to arrive.