The guests are floating in the lobby,
walking but also gliding to the front desk
then away, checking in, checking out,
muscular souls adorned in cotton,
wool, and rayon, chewing the future
inside their heads, slicing the air
with ironed pleats, avoiding the camera
at every turn so as, so as to get it right
this time, which is the first time.
First cut, best cut the director shouts
since this is also a silent film for the deaf
and therefore everyone. His aim
is to get the cast to see what they’ve
been missing, to disregard the very sounds
that they don’t hear to begin with,
but would notice immediately
if they were gone. See how they glide
on the ether above the floor.
The insouciance, Lord. The insouciance!
They are all here in the magic of the set,
every soul in the guise of a guest,
going about her business, a rendezvous here,
an assignation there, the solitary sipping
at the bar. Someone striking appears
at the door. The rain outside beats down
on the streets with terrible force until all
you can hear is the roar of the sky as it passes
above, and then below, on its narrow tracks.
Chard deNiord is the poet laureate of Vermont and the author of six books of poetry, most recently Interstate (The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and The Double Truth (Pittsburgh, 2011). His new book of interviews with nine contemporary poets (Jane Hirshfield, Natasha Trethewey, Carolyn Forché, Galway Kinnell, Martín Espada, Stephen Kuusisto, Peter Everwine, Ed Ochester, and Stephen Sandy) and James Wright’s widow, Annie, is forthcoming from Pittsburgh this month under the title I Would Lie To You If I Could. Other books include Night Mowing (Pittsburgh, 2005), Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990). A book of essays on and interviews with seven senior American poets, titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Conversations and Reflections on Twentieth-Century American Poets, was published by Marick Press in 2012. His poems and essays have appeared in The Pushcart Book of Poetry, New England Review, AGNI, Literary Imagination, Salmagundi, The American Poetry Review, and The Hudson Review. He is professor of English and creative writing at Providence College, co-founder of the New England College MFA Program in Poetry, and a trustee of the Ruth Stone Trust. He lives in Westminster West, Vermont, with his wife, Liz. (updated 5/2018)