The Vanishing Lady’s Daughter

But when I returned,
she had vanished, my mother,
and the hotel doctor was
only looking me up and down,
not answering, and the manager,
the hotel manager, showed me
the register, my mother’s name
nowhere to be found. And oh,
then the room! Room 342
was all turned round, no
velvet curtain, no wallpaper
with roses, though I knew—
I know!—they were there before.
And where was my mother,
with her fever and her sores,
and I supposed to help her but
delayed, the horseman driving
in circles, heaven knows why?
We should never have come there,
to Paris. We’d have been safer
going straight home, but Mother
had such a notion to see
the great Exposition for a change
after India, its misery and heat.
Do you suppose she’s seeing it now?
Perhaps she shall find me here
in England (but not at home).
Perhaps she shall carry
in her valise—also missing—
a set of fancy teacups or
a souvenir book of photographs.
That is why I stay here,
in this room, by this window.
I tear my shirtwaist, my hair.
I look out over the grounds,
beautiful as Versailles.
I stay. I tear. I look. I wait.

Read the original legend here.


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