The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

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Baron Wormser

The History Hotel

October. Someone lays a wreath on the derelict porch

of the History Hotel.

Shutters bang in the long-standing breeze.

The wreath layer thinks: This is for Aunt Laura and her dog Hansi

Known only in a photo from 1933 in which Laura

perches on a rocker

And looks pensively at the camera

while at her feet Hansi sits obediently

waiting in that way dogs wait,

Understanding how time is empty and full and may offer a biscuit.

Word was that Laura had been “a maiden aunt.”

October, the season of dying disappointments,

Beloved of gravediggers, poets, and dog walkers.

Later, someone else comes along and wonders who laid the wreath,

And how come the hotel from who-knows-when is still standing.

Is it a memorial? What happened to forward thinking?

A dog snuffles amid the leaf litter.

October — you can feel time running down, the race run.

Will this happen to me?

More to the point, will it happen to you?

Yes but not worth thinking about. Better to straighten the wreath.

Better to call the dog’s name to which the dog answers

With that eagerness that makes memory sob.