Kooser: “The following is just one of three fine poems John Drury, who lives and teaches in Ohio, has written about the summer jobs he had when young. Many of us have thought, with him, “So this is experience,” though we might have added a question mark. His most recent book of poems is Sea Level Rising, published by Able Muse Press.”
I reached out for their blessings, but the tips
were nothing next to rumpled, unmade beds
at four in the afternoon, women in slips
and men in t-shirts while the TV played.
Down in the laundry room, I counted sheets,
stunned by the musk that vanished in the wash,
and balled up soggy towels that down the chutes
exploded in bins. Before the evening rush,
avid and timid for what I glimpsed at work,
I left, hanging my gold vest on a hook.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2000 by John Philip Drury, “Motor Lodge,” from The Disappearing Town, (Miami University Press, 2000). Poem reprinted by permission of John Drury and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.