Forming a city block, the Bonham-Carter House has a narrow, pensive
main entrance that, although inviting, blends with the rest of the street.
These buildings on Gower are people: sedate and old, with noisy pipes.
Their walls occasionally bleed, especially under the orifice windows.
We enter her; check in at a melancholy brown and black front desk
where two cartoon-eyed girls extend mirthless greetings, stamp our books.
Glancing about, decades of décor mingling, interbreeding with scuffles
drawing and redrawing Arabesque boundaries between conflicting styles.
You have a nervous excitement rising. It always shows itself as static
electricity in your pale yellow hair, caught in your eyelashes and brows.
Our black duffles rest more lightly on our shoulders as we climb the stairs.
Four weeks tramping France and the U.K. to settle now in Bonham-Carter
it’s the delight of weary limbs nearing rest, craving nourishment and warmth.
We emerge on the fifth floor huffing air, muscles done for now; dim hallway
a straight line moving away in seemingly endless space toward room number 524.
This is a quiet, timeless vortex—slightly buzzing with ghosts from busier times.
You dance-walk ahead, sliding fingers over silent doors trying each handle.
Halfway along we find a large open arch; this floor’s bathroom and toilets.
It’s an expansive, high ceilinged room with rows of magnificently sculpted
porcelain shower and toilet stalls, sturdy as if built for Roman gods.
At the opposite end there’s a tall window and a rectangle of sunlight mirrored
on the wide, tiled floor; we drop our duffle bags and strip down to bare bones.
Cranking large, chromed faucet handles full on, hot water spray steams our
cold skin as we jump from one stall to the next, drenching hair with warmth.
I’m tall, like 6’3” on a good day, and the jutting nozzle is above my head,
slick pale tiles extending higher than that; steam magnifies all lines infinitely.
You appear as a white wisp of lithe flesh, with blond hair straight and long.
Those hard nights sleeping in parks and doorways vanish, lifted away in vapor
as our bodies meet again in the middle, under a stream of charged, stinging
hot hot hot water; fingers now sliding along naked familiar spaces, rediscovered.
This is the perfection of travel to foreign places, known but fantastically new.
London is like a cousin’s kinship one remembers from photos or crisp paper
letters, handwritten as a child in a voice projected to capture a future positive.
Facing the door to room 524, we’re still damp under our half fastened clothing.
You slip the large old key awkwardly into the peekaboo style lock and turn.
We’re here, toppled onto the unmade bed, like fallen flowers; our eyes at rest,
duffles tossed toward the only window—showing a sunbaked courtyard below.