After she has cleaned the room
Removed all evidence of previous occupation
Set it all straight and sweet for its new inhabitant
New towels neat in fluffy white, tiny bottles facing forward,
The top sheet of toilet paper folded into a neat triangle,
She reverently draws a chocolate from the votive bag
And sets it gently on the pillow.
She does not know
The stranger who will sleep between the sheets
Whose chocolate fortune she lays down.
The sun: that’s glory
Or the star: that’s aspiration
A heart: for new love, or enduring love.
The dog, which represents the fool, meaning bad decisions.
Laying the chocolates down, she notes, and smiles,
Or frowns, and moves on down the hall,
And makes straight, order out of disarray
To draw out little futures one by one.
A rose, the queen of flowers.
Or the moon, that stands for loss and need.
One fate per pillow, for each traveller.
Until one morning, on the nineteenth floor
First of the day, she draws the tower.
Breath catches in her throat.
Disaster for this unknown future guest.
She could not draw again, could not change fate
She had no power, she was but the maid
Who drew, laid down, no change or no control.
She moved on down the hall to clean again.
She could not warn, for no one would believe.
And the next pillow chocolate: tower again.
Again, again, the tower eleven times,
Before she thought that she was in a tower,
This moment, in a tower that could fall
Be struck by lightning, or some other force.
She dropped the towels on the bed and turned,
Took up the bag and poured the chocolates out
Each one a tower, slumped in a towering pile.
Jumbled brown chocolate towers, like destiny.
She turned and fled, abandoned cart and job,
For work is hard to find, but life is life.
She didn’t even stop to fetch her coat.
(And did the towers fall?
Or had the hotel streamlined the design?
What universe do you believe we’re in?)